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The national youth unemployment rate now stands at 63,9% for those aged 15-24, and 42,1% for those aged 25-34. Picture: MIKE HUTCHINGS/REUTERS
The national youth unemployment rate now stands at 63,9% for those aged 15-24, and 42,1% for those aged 25-34. Picture: MIKE HUTCHINGS/REUTERS

On Thursday June 16, as South Africans commemorate Youth Day, many will ponder the plight of young people in our country today and whether the hopes and dreams of the ‘76 generation have been fulfilled.

While many young South Africans are pursuing higher education and exciting job prospects, millions more are languishing in abject poverty. The national youth unemployment rate now stands at a staggering 63,9% for those aged 15-24, and 42,1% for those aged 25-34.

The youth are supposed to be a key driving force within our economy, but instead they have been locked out without the necessary training or skills. SA’s skills deficit is estimated to stand at 34%. According to the Western Cape department of economic development & tourism, the skills that are in demand in the province are primarily in the following sectors: agri-processing, oceans economy, business-process outsourcing, tourism, transport and logistics, ICT and digital-related fields, as well as artisan- and technical-trades-related sectors including manufacturing.

The department has been proactive in addressing the skills shortages in the province through a skills-development and innovation programme that dedicates resources to making sure skills match employment opportunities in the Western Cape. The programme mostly focuses on creating partnerships with the private sector and supporting experiential learning programmes that respond to a shortage of experience, skills and qualifications.

More than 400 beneficiaries are already being empowered through skills training thus far, with that figure expected to reach 4,000 by the end of the financial year. About 80% of beneficiaries who previously participated in similar programmes have secured further employment.

This highlights that SA’s youth unemployment crisis can be addressed through proactive programmes to upskill and empower young people. We need national government to follow this example and urgently invest in the future of young South Africans.

Gillion Bosman, MPP, DA Western Cape spokesperson on finance, economic opportunities & tourism.

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