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Social partners agree to reserve jobs for youth as part of accord

Government, business and labor have agreed to setting aside specific jobs for young South Africans in particular industry sectors as part of a broader six-pronged Youth Employment Accord, which was officially unveiled at the Hector Peterson Memorial, in Soweto on Thursday. Migrate to South AfricaSouth Africa’s level of youth unemployment was dubbed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development earlier this year as being “catastrophically high”, with 51% of citizens aged between 15 and 24 having been found to be without a job in the fourth quarter of 2012. The commitment included “clear targets” for new jobs in areas such as infrastructure, the business process services sector and the green economy, particularly in the manufacture, installation and maintenance of solar water heaters. Speaking at the launch, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe stressed that economic development and growth could only be sustained if more young people where absorbed into the economy. He also reminded the social partners of their commitment to work with government to achieve five-million new jobs by 2020. “The approach to youth employment is based on the common recognition by our social partners that more jobs need to be created to ensure that the total number of South Africans employed is significantly stepped up,” he said. Besides the job set-asides, officials from government, organised labor and business signed five other commitments. One of these related to the development of measures to expand the intake of young people within private companies through “targeted youth support and incentives approved by all constituencies”. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced during his 2013 Budget that the National Treasury was working on a youth employment tax incentive, which would be release for consideration by lawmakers in the coming months. The idea was to improve private-sector youth-employee absorption, without raising the hackles of those trade unions that were opposed to a so-called youth wage subsidy, which they argued had the potential to create a dual labor market. The accord also stressed the need to improve education and training opportunities for school leavers. A commitment was also made to improving work-exposure prospects through support for job-placement schemes and work-readiness promotion programs. The third commitment related to strengthening measures that would increase the number of young people employed in the public sector, including by scaling-up existing programs. Emphasis was also give to youth entrepreneurship and youth cooperatives. “Public agencies such as Small Enterprise Finance Agency, Small Enterprise Development Agency and the Jobs Fund will be encouraged to develop and strengthen dedicated programs of support for youth enterprises and youth cooperatives,” Motlanthe reported. R1BN YOUTH BUSINESS FUND In a parallel announcement, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) reported that R1-billion of its larger R10-billion Gro-E Scheme had been earmarked specifically to support businesses owned by individuals younger than 35. CEO Geoffrey Qhena reported that R3.5-billion had already been approved under the scheme, which would support 114 companies and create 23 800 jobs. This fund provides loans of a minimum value of R1-million at prime less 3% to businesses that operate in industries falling within the IDC’s mandate. Qhena said the IDC would work with other institutions, such as the National Youth Development Agency, to market the fund to young businesspeople. Motlanthe also highlighted the commitment by businessperson Patrice Motsepe, whose newly launched foundation would make R100-million available over the next three to five years for youth cooperatives and enterprises, as well as a further R100-million for education. He called on other businesses to follow this example. Meanwhile, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the Federation of Unions of South Africa and the National Council of Trade Unions also made commitments to assist young people with internships and learnerships, as well as with bursaries and direct employment within their structures. Source: http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/social-partners-agree-to-reserve-jobs-for-youth-as-part-of-accord-2013-04-18

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