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LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
7 June 2006
YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT: HEARINGS
Chairperson: Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Committee programme for public hearings on unemployment
South African Youth Council (SAYC) presentation
Mzantsi Youth Business Initiatives Coalition (MYBICO) submission
Tuks Afrikaanse Studente (TAS) submission: Part one & two
Bellville South Unemployment Forum (BSUF) presentation
Malamulela Social Movement Association (MNMU) submission
Umsobomvu Youth Fund (UYF) submission: Part one & two
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) submission
The South African Youth Council (SAYC), Mzantsi Youth Business Initiatives Coalition (MYBICO), Tuks Afrikaanse Studente (TAS), Malamulela Social Movement Association (MNMU), Umsobomvu Youth Fund (UYF) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) made submissions regarding youth unemployment to the committee, and the issues raised were debated. The Department of Labour (DOL) made some concluding remarks.
South African Youth Council (SAYC) submission:
Mr S Masuku (President, SAYC) said that the SAYC was a voluntary civil society youth organization representing the interests of youth organizations affiliated to it. Youth unemployment was a problem both globally and in South Africa, as statistics showed. Economic growth was not large enough to absorb new job seekers entering the labour market. As the measures taken by government had not solved the problem, SAYC made the following recommendations:
- Create worker co-operations to manage the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP)
- Labour Intensive Construction Projects
- Conduct impact-analysis on learnerships over the past five years
- Increase access to higher education and social security
Mr T Anthony (ANC) noted that SAYC was formed as a result of the breakdown of the National Youth Development Forum, and asked about challenges due to the circumstances of its formation and how Parliament could assist.
Mr S Siboza (ANC) asked about the relationship between SAYC, National Youth Commission (NYC) and UYF. He was puzzled that the presentation did not cover SAYC programmes, and asked about practical problems and areas of intervention.
Mr Masuku answered that there was currently a battle between the three organizations because they covered the same area.
Mr P Mashego (Honorary President, MNMU) noted that SAYC was critical of the learnerships while MNMU felt that this was a failure of initiative to solve the unemployment problem.
Mzantsi Youth Business Initiatives Coalition (MYBICO) submission:
Mr B Mothopeng (President, MYBICO) sketched the historical struggle of the youth, and their participation in freeing the country. As the youth did not participate sufficiently in the economy, youth economic empowerment was needed. The role of government was not to exercise power but to empower the people. Entrepreneurship had been endorsed by the government and promoted through Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative South Africa (ASGISA) and learnerships. MYBICO sought aggressive promotion of youth entrepreneurship, through various means. The small, medium and micro enterprises forum (SMME) should be divided into:
- small, medium and micro youth enterprises forum (SMMYE)
- small, medium and micro women’s enterprises forum (SMMWE)
- small, medium and micro black enterprises forum (SMMBE)
- small, medium and micro disabled enterprises forum (SMMDE)
Mr L Maduma (ANC) commented that the presentation handed out was too general. The purpose of the hearings was to learn about actual problems and how to solve them.
Mr Anthony asked what MYBICO meant by separating the issue of youth unemployment from youth empowerment.
Mr Mothopeng answered that the government was trying to solve the problem of unemployment by giving youth entrepreneurship. Youth economic empowerment was about giving the youth economic power.
Mr M Nceba (Black Sash) noted that not everyone could be an entrepreneur.
Mr B Mkongi (ANC) noted that South Africa was becoming a nation of shopkeepers.
Tuks Afrikaanse Studente (TAS) submission:
Mr C van Rensburg (TAS delegate) said that the aim of their presentation was to show how unemployment and affirmative action affected the white, Afrikaans-speaking community. TAS proposed that:
- affirmative action not be applied to those born after 2 February 1990
- the term ‘designated group’ in the Employment Equity Act should include all youth
- all ‘young enterprises’ should be considered equally for government tenders
Mr Anthony asked what TAS meant by saying that white people were being deprived of equal opportunities twice.
Mr van Rensburg said that white people did not have equal opportunities when applying for college or university, and then again when applying for jobs.
Mr Maduma thought the presentation was good and agreed on the exemption from affirmative action for youth growing up after 1994. For workers, the opportunities were still not the same. A construction company he knew of had hired two engineering students as trainees. The white student got a position as supervisor while the black student organized the material. There was a need to change the mindset of the older white generation, and affirmative action was needed to strike the balance.
Mr Masuku referred to statistics from 1995 to 2000: the average income dropped from R51 000 in 1995 to R49 000 in 2000. In 1995 20% of the poorest people received 1.9% of the total income, while the number dropped to 1.6% in 2000. In this period black people experienced a fall in income by 19%, while white people’s income increased by 15%.
Mr van Rensburg said that poverty was a cross-racial phenomenon and that government should look into poor economic empowerment,
Mr Mashego asked if there was an Afrikaans union for the unemployed people.
Mr Nceba said that the problems started in schools where the standard of education was different for black and white learners.
Mr van Rensburg noted that the white population was a shrinking minority while the majority was in power. TAS would not and could not take away anyone’s power, but were asking for equal opportunity and that affirmative action was only temporary. The government had improved the education system and it was the job of the government to ensure black children’s right to education.
Mr Mkongi wondered why there was an organization for white youth, and argued that the youth organizations must speak for South African youth as a whole.
Bellville South Unemployment Forum (BSUF) submission
The Chairperson terminated the presentation because it did not contain any proposals to the Committee.
Malamulela Social Movement Association (MNMU) submission:
Mr P Mashego (Honorary President, MNMU) gave the presentation which included:
- International and national policy frameworks
Umsobomvu Youth Fund (UYF) submission
The UYF presentation addressed the following key issues:
- The state of youth unemployment
- Features of youth unemployment
- Interventions to address youth unemployment
- UYF contribution
- Other interventions
- UYF has contributed by supporting SMMEs and job linking.
The Chairperson felt that the issue of immigration should be debated.
Mr van Rensburg said, regarding UYF’s statistics, that TAS did not claim that there was a higher unemployment rate among white people. He also noted that the figures did not include white students who went overseas to find work and the effect of black students choosing the wrong courses.
Mr Mothopeng argued that the UYF had failed in implementation of its programmes as it rejected good business plans. The UYF was like a bank wanting letters of intent from future customers even where this was impossible. UYF should review its structures.
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) submission:
Mr T Ehrenreich (COSATU Secretary-General) introduced the submission, which focused on the link between poverty and unemployment.
Ms P Govender (COSATU) made the presentation which revolved around:
- Legal improvements since 1994
- Definition of employed and unemployed persons
- COSATU’s support for a broad definition of unemployed persons.
Mr Masuku said that there was no comprehensive database for the job linking function, and that a complete database, including youth that had not graduated, should be made. He also asked for the success rate of the UYF’s voucher project, and argued that UYF should claim some of the money for the project back.
Mr Mashego said COSATU should concentrate on representing workers and not try to fulfil too many functions.
Mr Nceba noted that poor people had trouble finding work because they had limited access to media, transport, and libraries.
Mr J Rhodes (Chairperson, BSUF) raised the issue of unstable working conditions and employers denying their workers the opportunity to join unions.
Mr L Maduma suggested that the retirement age should be lowered to create space in the labour market for youth.
Department of Labour (DOL) conclusions
Mr S Morotoba (DOL delegate) concluded that:
- The issue of youth unemployment should be raised in a broader global context
- The problem should be looked at from different angles
- DOL should continue to co-operate with youth organizations
The meeting was adjourned
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