Premier Zille Visits Work and Skills Programme Project Site
This morning, Premier Helen Zille joined Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, as part of a delegation to witness the Western Cape's Youth Wage Subsidy - the Work and Skills for 100 000 Programme - in action. Following a press conference on the Work and Skills Programme, the Premier and Minister interacted with four of the participants in the Work and Skills for 100 000 at their workstations as they carried out their duties and explained the benefits they are receiving from the programme.
Media Statement by Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape
Releasing the brakes on the drive for greater economic opportunities for youth.
I am very excited to be here to view one of the project sites of the Work and Skills Programme and to witness this crucial intervention by the Western Cape Government to address youth unemployment in action. South Africa faces a very serious situation in this regard, with half of young South Africans being unemployed and youth making up an estimated 70% of those who are jobless.
It is a largely shared understanding that our unemployment crisis is a structural one and is rooted in a fundamental mismatch between the skills required by the economy and the skills available in the job market. This mismatch also occurs between the level of practical experience required by employers in filling job spaces, and the lack thereof among young people who otherwise have some basic level of qualification but have never had the opportunity to apply that in the workplace.
Our Work and Skills Programme, a form of youth wage subsidy scheme driven by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism in partnership with the private sector, is one important intervention to incentivise youth employment and catalyse job opportunities for young people. However, we have not stopped there.
On 3 May, I launched the Premier's Advancement of Youth (PAY) Project, which is a skills development and work experience programme that aims to provide young people with the opportunity to gain practical workplace skills and experience within the Western Cape Government. Driven by the Department of the Premier in conjunction with the Cape Learning Initiative, a Special Purpose Vehicle of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the PAY Project is an internship programme that will give participating young people a leg-up onto the lowest rung of the economic ladder.
The 850 young people participating in the PAY Project were selected from learners who matriculated in 2011 and applied for the programme. They went through a week of work readiness training and have now been placed in internships in departments across the Western Cape Government for a year.
We believe that the government has a crucial role to play in providing opportunities for citizens to empower and improve themselves so that they can live lives they value. The responsibility of our young citizens in turn is to take full advantage of opportunities such as the Work and Skills Programme and PAY Project to become economically productive members of society.
The latest unemployment statistics released by Statistics South Africa earlier this month were yet another wake-up call to all policy makers and representatives of government, labour, business and civil society to do something about the youth unemployment crisis, which is truly a "ticking time bomb".
The Western Cape Government has long realised that lack of practical experience is one of the main barriers to job market entry for young people. By lowering the effective cost of employment and minimising the risk to businesses of employing young, inexperienced workers, a youth wage subsidy incentivises on-the-job training and opens the door of economic opportunity to young people.
We need an economy that expands opportunity and is geared for growth. While we work to minimise bottlenecks and blockages to progress in other parts of the regional economy, we will continue to release the brakes on the drive for greater economic opportunities for youth through implementing the Work and Skills Programme and its corollary, the PAY Project.
Photos by Zak Mbhele.