Covid-19 brought the country's economic activities to a standstill, which affect employment in the country. With already high unemployment rates in the country, South Africa hit record numbers during the pandemic.
To combat this, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI) . Now, three years after it was introduced, 934 563 earning opportunities have been made available.
According to the Presidency’s Lerato Shai, the PYEI has made significant progress in tackling the challenge of transitioning youth from learning to earning.
How does the PYEI work?
Government partners with departments and society to create a network where unemployed youth can apply for temporary earning opportunities and gain work experience while also earning some money.
How we are tackling this problem is through three key objectives: driving systems change and focusing on the barriers that young people face; stimulating demand and aggregating opportunities into a single network to make it easy for young people to access opportunities, and of course, the actual work of linking them to opportunities.
One example is the Department of Basic Education which brought about the Basic Education Employment Initiative (BEEI) which saw thousands of unemployed youth get recruited as general school assistants and teaching assistants. They were then stationed at schools across the country, earning a stipend.
Young people across South Africa can access opportunities to earn on the National Pathway Management Network. Around 4 million youth are a part of the network "and accessing opportunities, and finding more traction in the labour market than before," says Shai.
She explained that the network is also reaching those who have not always had access to opportunities to earn. The Network brings together a bunch of networks which makes it easier for young people to access opportunities.
In the past year, 380 556 job vacancies were filled by young people using the network. Of this, 70% are said to young black women, who are often excluded from opportunities.
"We are also reaching the poorest young people, with many of them reporting that they live in households that are receiving a social grant, as well as reporting that they attended some of the poorest schools in the country," said Shai.
The National Youth Development Agency is also bringing employment opportunities to young people and is placing even greater emphasis on this, during this Youth Month.
National Youth Development Agency CEO, Waseem Carrim, said, "What we have found is that young people are responsive to opportunities."