South Africa’s concept of youth development is influenced by the historical conditions that have shaped the country and its democratic goals. The National Youth Policy is informed by the UN World Programme of Action for the Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond and the African Youth Charter. The African Youth Charter identifies challenges faced by youth in the continent as including education, skills, competence development, employment and sustainable livelihoods, youth leadership and participation, health and welfare, peace and security, environment protection and cultural and moral values.
Statistics South Africa (2011) mentions that young people constitute 41.2 percent of the country’s population. It further holds the view that a large workforce with few children to support, creates a window of opportunity to increase economic output and invest in technology, education and skills to create the wealth needed to cope with the future aging of the population. However, in a situation whereby a large number of youth is unemployed there is a serious threat to social, political and economic stability.
A review of the implementation of the National Youth Policy (NYP) 2009-2014 was done and the review and other research, informed the priorities contained in this current draft policy 2014-2019. This means that the NYP is a progression from the first NYP 2009-2014. The current draft improves upon and updates the previous policy by speaking to new and continuing challenges faced by South Africa’s youth. It does not reinvent the wheel but rather uses lessons learnt from the previous NYP to create an environment that enables the youth to unleash their potential by identifying those mechanisms that will make this possible. Furthermore the draft is a strategic document meant for the entire youth sector and will consequently offer a set of policy priorities and recommendations that will turn the general concept of youth development into action.
1. Economic Participation
The South African June 2014 Labour force survey states that unemployment amongst young people between the ages of 15 to 35 is at 36.1% whilst unemployment of adults between the ages of 35 to 64 stands at 15.6%. The labour absorption rate of youth is also lower when compared to that of adults. The substantive resolution of high youth unemployment is tied to measures to place the economy on a labour-absorbing growth path. This depends on successful reorientation of the South African economy to raise labour demand and with matching improvements in condition on the supply-side of the equation.
Re-industrialisation and diversification of the economic base is key policy objective underpinning the National Development Plan, the New Growth Path and the Industrial Policy Action Plan. This speaks to the Jobs Drivers identified in the New Growth Path; the sector strategies of IPAP and other sectoral programmes to support economic transformation.
The draft youth policy highlights that youth empowerment should be one of the core outcomes of the economic and social transformation agenda. The measures to enhance youth employment in this phase include:
Industrial policy interventions to improve labour-absorption in the economy and raising labour demand in the South African economy.
Skills development and training to prepare youth for jobs and enhance career mobility.
Work exposure measures to provide young people an opportunity to gain on-the-job experience and linking job seekers to employers. (These interventions have been successful in recording job seekers and opportunities, but not too successeful in placements).
Interventions to support youth owned companies and cooperatives with finance, access to markets and business skills. This is coupled with measures to support business registration.
Improved public employment schemes
The Economic Development Department will lead discussions with business and labour towards a second phase of the Youth Employment Accord. Business and labour should be required to make firm commitments on creating jobs for young people. An impact study will be undertaken by National Treasury, NYDA and Economic Development to examine the effectiveness of the Employment Tax in stimulating job creation for new entrants in the labour market. There is a need for a conversation around what competencies/skills should be acquired by learners in order to prepare for the world of work. Measures to support work exposure for youth.
Redress and BEE for young people
Drawing heavily from the National Development Plan (NDP) the draft youth policy calls for the creation of an enabling environment for SMMEs and entrepreneurs to thrive. This includes inculcating the spirit of entrepreneurship in schools, lowering the cost of doing business in the economy and the reducing barriers to entry in various value chains. Aligning all legislation and the codes and charters that flow from the BBBEE Act of 2003 has begun and should continue such that the state procurement lever is used more effectively to advance socio-economic transformation.
Rural Development and Land Reform for young people
Again drawing from the NDP, policy interventions that could benefit young people living in rural areas and have access to productive communal land include:
1. The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Rural Development could focus on improving small scale and commercial agriculture through expanding irrigated agriculture and providing extension officers as well as farming implements to young people and help them identify and grow products that are labour intensive; have high potential and have high market linkages such as table and dried grapes; pecan nuts and oilseeds. These young farmers must be linked to a programme for farmer-to-farmer skills transfer, agricultural extension and training by the state in partnership with industry
2. Young people should participate in a programme to be led by provincial land reform departments whereby each district municipality with commercial farming land in South Africa identifies 20 percent of the commercial agricultural land in the district: (land already in the market; land where the farmer is under severe financial pressure; land held by an absentee landlord willing to exit; and land in a deceased estate). Government should buy this land at 50% its commercial value; this is closer to is productive value. The shortfall will be made up by cash or in-kind contributions from the commercial farmers in the district who volunteer to participate. A stepped programme of financing should be created including the National Treasury, the Land Bank as well as established white farmers. New financial instruments should be designed for example 40-year mortgages at preferential rates for new entrants into the markets, as well as land bonds that white farmers and others could invest in. (see that national development plan for details).
2. Education, Skills and Second Chances
The Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector should cover about 25 percent of the age-relevant cohort. This is an increase from about 300 000 to 1 million by 2030. Special attention needs to be given to opportunities that provide unskilled and uneducated youth with second chance opportunities. Community colleges have been designed to cater for youth who neither completed their schooling nor attended school and as a result do not qualify to study at TVET colleges and universities. The colleges will be tailor made to meet the needs of the youth. There will also be linkages between these colleges, the EPWP (Expanded Public Works Programme) and the CWP (Community Works Programme). The proactive nature of these interventions reduces the need to provide second chance programmes.
South Africa needs a skilled labour force to thrust the country onto a higher developmental trajectory. The skills needed to achieve this include engineering, sufficient doctors, nurses and health professionals in different occupational classes to deliver quality healthcare, researchers and innovators to play a critical role in creating new products and new ways of producing existing products cheaply and more efficiently, including the delivery of public services.
Research institutions and the national science and innovation system must be coordinated and collaborative. The post-school education and training sector must improve equity in access and quality of outcomes. In order to achieve this, the country must among others, improve the school system, strengthen the capacity of key youth development institutions and ensure integration and coordination in the delivery of youth services, as well as progressively introduce free basic education for poor learners until undergraduate level.
3. Health Care and Combating Substance Abuse
The National Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Framework Strategy (2014-2019), serves as a responsive policy to bridge the “gaps that still exist in the promotion of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).” The draft youth policy has adopted the interventions proposed in the strategy. The envisaged outcomes of the strategy include that adolescents should espouse a core value system that propagates good self-image and thus nurturing the skills and capacities needed to be assertive in negotiating and making decisions about their SRHR (Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights); the family and community should have supportive network for adolescent, challenge taboos and myths and there should also be increased collaboration among various stakeholders and government in improving Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. To achieve these outcomes, one of the 5 Framework Strategy identified is formulating evidence based revisions of legislation, policies, strategies and guidelines on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.
There is also a need for laws, policies and recreational facilities among other interventions, to deal with the challenge of substance abuse and related illnesses particularly among the youth.
4. Nation building and social cohesion
The Constitution outlines principles of non-racialism, non-sexism and equality before the law. The social, psychological, and geographic elements of apartheid continue to be part of the lives of many South Africans. If the systemic racism is not confronted, it will perpetuate and reproduce itself. It is this inherited psyche of racial prejudice, breakdown in values, inequality of opportunity and massive poverty, as well as competition for scarce resources, which helps fuel racism and xenophobia.
The draft policy calls for the fostering of leadership across society, active citizenry, as well as fostering the values outlined in the Constitution.
5. Optimising the youth machinery for effective delivery and responsiveness.
Approximately 25% of the working age group is unemployed. And 70% of them are young people between the ages of 15 to 35 years. As a result the magnitude of this challenge, NYDA cannot be everything to youth development.
This means that while the NYDA remains a major catalyst for youth development:
Government as a whole (nationally, provincially and at the local level) must spearhead youth development across all departments.
Business must also place youth development programmes at the centre of their business development and expansion strategies.
The youth development machinery must be consistent with the location of youth development programmes at the centre of transformation and the vision of the National Development Plan; that of bringing about a prosperous and more equitable society by 2030.
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SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS