Creation of jobs for the youth

/sites/default/files/pictures/Kopo.Lehobye.jpgBy Kopo Ndhlovu

The start of the New Year, many matriculants will be hunting for spaces at various tertiary institutions across the country. At the same time, a significant number of graduates will be leaving institutions of higher learning in search of employment after having attained their qualifications.

These qualifications give them a head start to a good job, better life and an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty in their families. However, most of these graduates find it difficult to break into the job market because they do not meet the work requirements. In most cases, they are told that they do not have enough experience!

This state of affairs is concerning as it hinders new graduates from entering the workplace and earning a living while gaining the necessary experience that improves their work prospects. Our government appeals to potential employers to heed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to do away with work experience so that we can employ as many young graduates as possible.

More importantly, President Ramaphosa has called on employers to use the Employment Tax Incentive (ETI) that encourages businesses to hire more young work-seekers in large numbers. This tax incentive, which was introduced in 2014 reduces an employer’s cost of hiring young people through a cost-sharing mechanism with government, while leaving the wage the employee receives unaffected.

The employer can claim the ETI and reduce the amount of Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) tax payable by the amount of the total ETI calculated in respect of all qualifying employees. There is no administrative burden for businesses wanting to access these incentives. It is administered through the existing tax administration platform by the SARS.

The ETI is part of a number of interventions by government aimed at reducing youth unemployment. Other initiatives include the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme and Youth Employment Service (YES).

Through the Youth Employment Service initiative, one million young South Africans will be offered paid work experience. Unemployed young people are placed in paid internships, apprenticeships, mentorship and entrepreneurship across the country.

At the start of 2023, YES had placed over 100 000 South Africans between the ages of 18 and 29 in local businesses for a year of work experience. Through YES, approximately R6 billion in youth salaries has been injected into the economy and has enabled participants to support their families. The YES programme also operates training hubs in several industries, including Information Technology, aquaponics, sustainable farming, culinary skills, textile manufacturing, ceramics and pottery and automotive manufacturing, and it also boasts a Drone Academy.

Over 1 400 businesses participate in YES, and the aim is to increase the pace of placements as more companies come on board and more opportunities are made available. In October last year Microsoft South Africa and the Youth Employment Service signed a partnership agreement to provide artificial intelligence (AI) skills to 300 000 South African youth.

The Presidential Employment Stimulus on the other hand has created over 1,7 million work and livelihood opportunities since its establishment, representing the largest expansion of public employment in South Africa’s history.

The majority of participants of the Presidential Employment Stimulus are youth and women. The creation of job opportunities for the youth cannot be achieved by government alone, it requires hard work from all social partners. It is therefore incumbent that all South Africans should support government programmes which prioritise improving the lives of young people.