Freedom from unemployment and failed education, fairness in the labour market and equal access to economic opportunities

By Adv Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson for Economic Affairs:

The following is an extract from the speech delivered on 15 June 2015 by the hon. Boitumelo Babuseng, the Democratic Allianc’s provincial spokesperson for Economic Affairs, during the Youth Day debate held today in Upington.

Pule Mabe is 35 years of age and is reported to have made himself available for the position of ANCYL president. On the other hand, the Federal Leader of the DA was elected to this position at the age of 34.

In Youth Month, we honour the role played by the youth in the fight for freedom, fairness and opportunity. History has shown that when the South African youth stand together, they are unstoppable. The Democratic Alliance proudly stand by the hard-working youth of our province.

Our youth must enjoy the freedom to pursue careers of their choosing, with fairness in the labour market and the open opportunity for all to develop their skills and talents.

Last month, Statistics South Africa published its report on the 2014 labour market dynamics in South Africa. The statistics from this report shows that our youth are suffering when they should be enjoying freedom, fairness and opportunity.

According to the report, the youth unemployment rate is double that of adults. Since our youth are also more likely to have limited previous work experience, their chances of finding employment is reduced even further. In 2014, more than half of our youth have never had a job – and the longer they remain unemployed, the less and less likely they are to become employed.

At 36%, the Northern Cape has the highest rate in the country of youth who are neither employed nor furthering their studies or training.

Unemployment poses such a challenge that 7% of our youth have become discouraged and are no longer actively seeking employment.

It is the task of government to create an environment that is conducive for economic growth and enables our youth to access jobs.

Access to economic opportunities must not be determined by the circumstances of your birth or your political connectivity or affiliation.

For our youth to enjoy full and fair access to economic opportunities, there has to be skills development, training and education. The Democratic Alliance believes that the Northern Cape will only be a successful province when every child receives a quality education. Our curricula, at school level and beyond, must equip learners and students with the knowledge and competencies that are relevant to the current economy.

But if our children are not getting the right education of the right quality, they will not be equipped to pursue the paths of their choosing. We cannot deny our youth the freedom to determine their own future.

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the first quarter of 2015 shows that the Northern Cape lost another 13 000 jobs. As of March 2015, the province has an expanded employment rate of 43%. Effectively, this statistic means that 57% of the provincial population – including our youth – are not employed, are not developing their skills and have given up on finding that elusive job.

The policies of the Democratic Alliance can and do make a difference to the youth. The largest quarterly employment gains were made in the DA-led Western Cape. The metropolitan municipality and the province with the lowest unemployment figures are governed by the DA. That is what real freedom, real fairness and real opportunity means.

We owe it to the youth of 1976 to give our youth a better future – a future with freedom, fairness and opportunity.

The Democratic Alliance will work towards realising this goal of a province where our youth can be free from unemployment and free from a failed education system, participating fairly in the labour market and enjoying equal access to economic opportunities.

And Democratic Alliance submits that this can be achieved by;

  • Introducing a youth wage subsidy nationally;
  • An opportunity Voucher Scheme wherein eligible young South Africans

can access funding to start a business or further their education or skills development;

  • Vocational Training Programme and Apprenticeship Programme which

will sync development at the workplace with classes offered at Further Education and Training (FET) colleges. Apprentices in the programme would be paid a small salary by the employer, which would be subsidized by a stipend from the relevant education department. This salary will then increase as the person’s skills advance. After three years, the apprentice will have to pass an exam in order to obtain a certificate of qualification.

Unlike the SACP, the DA does not offer simple answers to complex youth questions. In fact, Marxism sheepishly claims that youth subculture is exclusively caused by high youth unemployment.

I offer the following extract from the DA Federal Leader, Mmusi Maimane in his weekly newsletter Bokamoso:

“These are all plans that can be implemented right away- all that is required is the political will to do so. Sadly, the ANC government has demonstrated, time and again, that they do not have this will. The good news however, is that we are heading towards a future where we will be able to implement these plans. Change is coming, and that change is led by the DA. Under a DA-led government, our young people will truly be empowered to take advantage of opportunities. And once this happens, our country will move forward towards a future that is both inclusive and prosperous.”