Fri, 19 Jul 2019

President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the high unemployment rate among the youth in the country as "a shame on our country's conscience".

Addressing several hundred people during the June 16 commemoration in Polokwane, Limpopo on Sunday at the local cricket club grounds, Ramaphosa said it was the youth who reminded the nation that liberation of the country is not complete if millions of people are still living in poverty and are jobless.

"Over the last few months, I travelled the country listening to the voices of our people - young and old, men and women. They took time talking about their frustrations as well as their fears. They shared their many problems and challenges.

"They told me of the indignity of waking up each morning, hoping that [today] will be the day that they find work or some opportunity to change their lives, only to be disappointed day-in and day-out.

"They told me of their despondency of having to sit at home despite having the [university] degrees or the diplomas because they do not have work experience. These are the stories of the youth around the whole country," Ramaphosa said.

However, he spoke of other young people who became innovative and were now successful entrepreneurs. He encouraged other youth to continue to create employment for themselves.

"These positive stories are a reminder that the flame that burnt among the youth of 1976 has not been lost to the history books. All we have to do as a nation is to turn it up and make that flame brighter and brighter," he said.

On education, Ramaphosa said the government will continue to strengthen TVET colleges for young people to gain technical skills to develop the economy.

"We have decided that no one should be denied decent education because of the financial background of their families. It is for this reason that the budget for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has grown exponentially.

"When we started in 1994, the budget was R70m. And now in 2019, that budget has grown to R15bn to support our young people," he said to loud applause.

He said the government was crafting a number of initiatives and interventions to create employment because youth unemployment was a national crisis.

He agreed with National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) chairperson Sifiso Motswene that a requirement of work experience robs youth from getting jobs, in some instances.

Motswene, who spoke earlier at the same event, called on the government to intervene.

Ramaphosa said: "We have started to open opportunities for young people in all facets of life including our Cabinet. In no time, we will start to see a greater representation of young people in our Parliament.

"I also look forward to a day when even in our EXCOs [Executive Councils] at a provincial level and in national Cabinet you have a greater number of young people."

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