Youth Unemployment: hearings

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Employment and Labour

01 June 2006
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Meeting report

LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
2 June 2006
YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT: HEARINGS

Chairperson: Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Disabled Persons South Africa submission
Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative submission
National Youth Development Policy Framework 2002-2007: Part 1 & 2
National Youth Commission submission
Children’s Rights Project, Community Law Centre, University of the Western Cape submission
Business Unity South Africa submission
Rural Education Access Programme
Submission by Brian Gray


SUMMARY
Disabled Persons South Africa, the Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative, the National Youth Commission, the Children's Rights Project, and Business Unity South Africa made presentations to the Committee on the subject of youth unemployment.

Members were concerned about co-operation between Disabled Persons South Africa and the Department in improving the percentage of disabled persons in the public service personnel. They also asked about the quality of skills-development training given to ex-prisoners, and discussed the inability of the National Youth Commission to implement its policies due to the failure of the Employment Equity Act to categorise youth as a target group.

MINUTES

Disabled Persons South Africa presentation
Ms G Burrows (DPSA presenter) said that Disabled Persons South Africa (DPSA) was a human rights organisation established in 1994. Its object was to ensure rights for disabled persons, mainly through advocacy and lobbying. Government's target was to have 2% disabled persons in the public service personnel by 2005, but this target had not been reached. The percentage of disabled persons in the workforce was low in other fields as well. Disabled persons were prevented from gaining employment partly by a lack of skills and partly by ignorance amongst employers and inaccessibility to work environment. Measures to overcome these obstacles were recommended.

Discussion:
Mr G Lekgetho (ANC) noted that disabled persons did not wish to be related to as 'disabled' but as ordinary citizens, yet the DPSA kept using the word. He further asked if the DPSA worked with the Department.

Mr C Lowe (DA) asked how the Department assisted DPSA in meeting the target of 2% disabled persons in the public service.

Ms Burrows answered that the DPSA had a close relationship with the Department, but wished to strengthen it to ensure that the targets were reached.

Mr V Gore (ID) referred to the Port Elizabeth Judgement regarding a Police Station that was not accessible to disabled persons, and said that disabled persons should take more cases to court.

Ms Burrows said that the legislative framework was in place but was not enforced, and that the progress was slow. She also thought that they should make more use of the Human Rights Commission.

Ms H Weber (DA) noted that the DPSA did not mention transport in their presentation, even though this was a major issue for the disabled.

Ms Burrows replied that the DPSA had a workshop 12 weeks ago concerning the UN Convention, and the main challenge for the disabled was employment. Transport was also a major problem. The legal framework was in place in this area, but unfortunately not enforced.

Ms S Rajbally (MF) was concerned about employers being reluctant to hire disabled persons and said that they should be better informed on the constitutional rights of the disabled to be considered.

Mr L Maduma (ANC) asked if the statistics in the presentation regarding the examples from Gugulethu and Khayelitsha only included members of DPSA.

Ms Burrows noted that the DPSA was a specialised organisation and their workshops differed from the protected workshops offered by the service provider. The member-groups mentioned were members of DPSA but not necessarily part of a protective workshop.

Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative presentation:
Mr L Muntingh (CSPRI delegate) presented the Civil Society Prison Reform Iniative (CSPRI) submission which was focused on these basic matters:

The impact of imprisonment on youth unemployment
The link between unemployment and crime

Future measures should be implemented to prevent young people from ending up in prison and to prevent their return to prison. Ex-prisoners should be integrated into society, and the government should take measures to help them find jobs.

Discussion:
The Chairperson asked how the certificate for training received in prison differed from other certificates.

Mr Muntingh said they did not differ in content, but the certificate obtained in prison was issued by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), and employers did not wish to employ ex-prisoners. The ex-prisoners therefore did not wish to show the certificate from DCS when applying for work.

Mr Lekgetho noted that the quality of the certificate was important and asked if CSPRI co-operated with the Department.

Mr Muntingh answered that the CSPRI did not have a steady relationship with the Department and that this was the first time they had made a submission to the Committee.

Mr Lowe suggested that the CSPRI should relate more with the DCS to make life easier for ex-prisoners.

Mr Muntingh answered that the CSPRI co-operated closely with the Department and Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services.

Ms L Moss (ANC) raised the question of how homeless persons had problems obtaining jobs because of lack of permanent homes.

Ms Weber thought that the Correctional Services should be reconstructed.

Ms Rajbally was concerned about the high percentage of young people in prison (41% between 18 and 25 years old), and said that they should be rehabilitated and offered employment.

A delegate from the NYC said that a challenge for ex-prisoners trying to find work was that they were asked about their criminal records, and employers did not wish to hire ex-criminals.

Mr Muntingh said that there should be guidelines regarding questions of a criminal record. Questions of a criminal record should only be asked when relevant. Employing ex-criminals was a measure that benefited society, and the Minister of Correctional Services did for instance employ ex-prisoners in his office.

Mr Muntingh further noted that 40 000 people were awaiting trial in South Africa. 60% were released within the trial and 20 000 were in custody for longer than three months. It was cost-effective to take preventive measures, for instance skills development and working with families and single mothers.

Mr Muntingh told of an experience with the National Institute for Crime Prevention (NICRO). When NICRO had to establish its own financing company, they hired 90% of the staff from ex-prisoners.

Mr Muntingh further noted that ex-prisoners needed formal employment, rather than starting their own businesses.

Children’s Rights Project presentation:
A delegate from the Children's Rights Project read aloud the submission (written by J Gallinetti from the Community Law Centre at UWC), which included:

Comment on children used by adults or older children to commit crime (CUBAC).
CUBAC and youth unemployment
Comment on youth and unemployment
Submission asking that the extensive labour and education policies would be implemented

Discussion:
Ms N Ngcengwane (ANC) asked if the children needed education rather than jobs since 17 year olds were not ready to work.

The delegate said that these children fell behind and had no education. The Children's Rights Project was against child labour; and it was often the need for income that exposed children to crime.

National Youth Commission presentation:
Ms P Linders (Deputy Chairperson of the NYC) presented the National Youth Commission (NYC) submission concerning the following issues:

Role of NYC, Umsobomvu Youth Fund (UYF) and South African Youth Council (SAYC)
Past-decade achievements
Legislative framework
Youth participation in the economic mainstream
Barriers to youth unemployment
Proposed areas of intervention
Current Programmes
Challenges

The NYC made the following recommendations:

Economic empowerment strategy for youth
Training through educational institutions and internships
Youth should be integrated specifically within the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative South Africa (ASGISA)

Discussion:
Mr Lekgetho noted that the NYC was located in the President’s Office and asked why they did not have a representative in every committee to ensure a youth bias. In Gauteng the youth were represented, and ensured that national decisions were filtered down. He also asked how the NYC was distinctive from other youth organisations, and noted that the presentation was not supposed to be about their mandate and policy, but about what the NYC had done.

Ms Linders answered that, because of budget constraints, they were only able to hire one person and this person could not attend all meetings. The NYC had no power to implement their policies. Under the Employment Equity Act the youth was not mentioned as a specific group, unlike women, black people and disabled persons. The mindset must change regarding youth unemployment. Youth must be given funds, land and skills to become entrepreneurs. It was also difficult to lobby for funding to take measures under the National Skills Development Act.

Mr Maduma said it was a problem that young people that finished high school or university were not absorbed by the economy. The Committee needed to know where the gap was to be able to close it, and they needed assistance from the NYC. The youth in high school should be trained to choose a path that led to employment.

Ms Linders agreed with these notions, but they could not go into detail in a ten-minute presentation. The country's politicians needed an integrated strategy to solve these problems. Training on how to choose a career path was not a subject in high school. The Department was responsible for guidelines for students, and the NYC supported the idea. The NYC and the OYF needed to clarify and review their relationship and to find the structure that would work best. Entrepreneurship was not the magic remedy but it was usually not even considered an option among the youth.

Business Unity South Africa presentation
Mr V Mabena (BUSA delegate) presented the Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) submission which included:

Remarks on the unemployment in the country
Remarks on the high number of drop-outs and children leaving school without basic skills
Learnership system
Business initiatives to create readiness for work
Alternative employment strategies

BUSA argued that:

Business had to carry the burden of basic education and training
There was a need to change the expectation that business would absorb all young people coming out of the education system

Discussion
Mr Lowe did not dispute the numbers regarding lack of basic knowledge but asked where they came from.

Mr Mabena said the numbers came from the government and Statistics South Africa.

Ms Ngcengwane asked how many profited from Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) and its impact on young people.

A member of the NYC enquired what the role of business was.

Mr Mabena said that the old saying was that ‘the business of business is business', but that South African business had a social function.

Department of Labour comments
Mr S Morotoba (Department delegate) said that the Department had a range of programmes regarding youth unemployment. The Department would make recommendations regarding CUBAC and establish a working relationship with CSPRI. Regarding BUSAs presentation and the obligation on employers, there must be a middle route where an obligation exists yet self-employment was allowed.

The meeting was adjourned.


 

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