By More Matshediso
Pretoria – South African youth ought to be more entrepreneurial in their employment outlook, as opposed to merely being job seekers.
On Wednesday, the Deputy Minister for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency, Buti Manamela, spoke at The New Age Business briefing held at Sandton, in Johannesburg.
He was on a panel together with National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Chairperson Yershen Pillay and Songstress and Activist Simphiwe Dana.
Dana said the youth of today, unlike those who suffered under the apartheid regime, have a different struggle of sitting at home with post matric qualifications and struggling to find jobs.
“There are so many of our young people sitting at home with degrees; they can’t find jobs,” she said.
Dana said she picked up that, during the recent attacks on foreign nationals that occurred in South Africa, most South African youth lacked the spirit of entrepreneurship as compared to most African countries.
She encouraged youth to be more entrepreneurial, adding that sometimes youth are not able to exploit opportunities at their disposal because they are not entrepreneurial in spirit.
“We need to empower young people and make them aware that the future is in their hands. Let them know that as much as government is doing for you, you must also do for yourself and the country,” she said.
She also encouraged government to change its approach when addressing youth, especially the use of political language. She said youth want to be heard and spoken to in a language that is simple and understandable.
The Deputy Minister reiterated Dana’s words, adding that government does not only want young people to look for jobs but to create them, and set up businesses.
“The appetite for young people to get into businesses in South Africa is lowest in Southern Africa and in the continent,” said the Deputy Minister.
He said the NYDA and other youth entities are increasing their capacity for aspirant entrepreneurs and will also assist in mentorship.
The Deputy Minister said the Presidency has held various talks with youth from various sectors with regard to the draft of the National Youth Policy, which addresses issues such as youth development, youth unemployment and access to quality education in public schools, also support for youth businesses and social cohesion.
“Youth are concerned about drugs that are easily available in their communities, issues like teenage pregnancy as well. These are some of the issues we seek to address,” said Deputy Minister Manamela.
He said some of the interventions that government has in the policy includes targeted youth employment programmes and providing young people with skills.
He said most young people want to go to universities, but the challenge is that the majority are enrolled for humanities.
“For the economic direction our country is taking, we need engineers… we need plumbers, welders and all those types of skills that will not only help young people be employed but also start up enterprises,” he said.
He said although government encourages youth to consider careers in engineering, it will not ignore those who want to pursue careers in the arts and recreations.
He said although South African youth are faced with many challenges, they remain positive about the future.
Pillay weighed in and encouraged the civil society and business sector to assist in youth development, adding that the NYDA has progressed well in the past two years to reach out to more young people, but it still has a long way to go.
He said the repositioning of the NYDA has seen all social partners take on the responsibility, including civil society and private sector.
“We have also launched a number of new programmes that are critical for youth development. Youth development is not one dimensional, it involves economic and social development, life skills, among others. Youth development has to be the business of all,” he said.