The call comes as South Africa officially begins a month-long commemoration of Youth Month. The month of June is dedicated to youth upliftment in honour of the youth of 1976, who bravely fought against the apartheid regime.
Addressing an event held at the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum in Soweto on Friday, 2 June, to mark the start of Youth Month, NYDA chair Sifiso Mtsweni said it was unfair practise to sideline young graduates from employment because of their lack of experience.
“It cannot be accepted that unemployed young people, particularly young graduates, are not finding work in this country because … they don’t have experience. If they don’t have jobs, where are they going to get that experience?” said Mtsweni.
He said the NYDA will robustly engage government and the private sector on the matter.
Youth Month 2017 is being commemorated under the theme, ‘The Year of OR Tambo: Advancing Youth Economic Empowerment’.
Making the NYDA accessible
Mtsweni said the first order of business for the new NYDA Board is to ensure that the agency is accessible to young people all over the country.
“Young people are found in the townships and rural areas. Why is it that the offices of the NYDA are not in the townships and rural areas? This is one of the first things we want to [change],” he said.
The board was appointed by President Jacob Zuma in May.
Mtsweni said the NYDA will assist young people to access funding for their own businesses, as the majority struggle to get funding due to bad credit records.
“If you have a bad credit record, you can’t be given a loan to run your business. Even if you have a good business idea, the moment you put your business idea into a business plan, [banks] can’t give you money because [of a bad credit record].
“The NYDA has been running a grant programme for young people and we want to extend that programme to ensure that it reaches as many young people as possible,” said Mtsweni.
He further called on government to consider increasing the budget of the NYDA, saying that the agency is being well managed.
“We have been [getting] clean audits. Our governance systems are in place. We are going to continue [getting] clean audits and [maintain] good governance. However, the good governance and clean audits must be coupled with service delivery because young people… need to… benefit from this.”
Mtsweni said the NYDA wants to launch two funds, including a youth skills funds, where they would get the private sector, government and civil society to invest in young people.
Meanwhile, Mtsweni said the NYDA is in the process of finalising an Integrated Youth Development Strategy. The plan is to get all youth formations and student movements to meet within the next three weeks to solicit their inputs on the challenges they are facing, particularly at higher learning institutions.
Stop women and child abuse
Mtsweni used the occasion to call on young people to expose those who abuse children and women in their communities.
“As the NYDA, we condemned the killing of young women and children... We call on young people to start being vigilant. We must expose these [perpetrators]...”
Focus on STEM subjects
Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, who attended the event, encouraged young people to keep in mind the challenges faced by the country when they choose tertiary courses.
“It is important to focus on STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] subjects and also ICT. It is of critical importance that we look at the trends happening around the world.
“The World Economic Forum in January this year released [a report] that 60% of all the children who are in primary school this year, will be in jobs that don’t exist today. This tells us that the revolution in technology is pacing ahead... Study the courses that will give you an opportunity to compete in the [job] market,” said Minister Radebe.