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LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
20 JUNE 2006
SOUTH AFRICAN GRADUATE DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms O R Kasienyane (ANC)
Documents handed out:
SAGDA presentation youth unemployment
The SA Graduate Development Association briefed the Committee on the nature, scope and challenges to youth unemployment. Members asked questions of clarity regarding the demographics of the organisation, the level of career advice students were given to identify gaps in the job market and what specific areas of study had the highest number of unemployed graduates.
South African Graduates Development Association (SAGDA) presentation
The South African Graduates Development Association (SAGDA) presented a submission to the Committee on youth unemployment. Mr Ronnie Midaka (Operations Officer) explained the nature, scope and challenges of youth unemployment specifically through the graduate perspective. The presenter outlined SAGDA’s perceived gaps in legislation and job creation for youth with reference to the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGISA) policy. The presentation dealt with social development and entrepreneurship development as job creation strategies and the effectiveness of labour market institutions.
The Chair commented that it was unfortunate the Department of Labour and Youth Fund had failed to send representatives to the meeting.
Ms H Weber (DA) sought clarity on the level of advice students received regarding the direction in which they should pursue their studies, relating to the labour market. This was perhaps the problem, given the skills gap South Africa apparently faced. Had students been advised not to pursue studies in over supplied sectors?
Mr Midaka explained that prior to students entering tertiary level education there was very little formal advice on which subjects students should study. SAGDA were in the process of carrying out an initiative they had begun at the beginning of the year. They had approached an organisation that trained people to deliver career guidance, and had reached an agreement to train seven graduates. These graduates had identified schools in their communities where they would deliver such guidance.
Mr Mzondeki (ANC) sought clarity on the relationship, and co-ordination between SAGDA and the Youth Fund Youth database. Had they consolidated their databases?
Mr Midaka explained that there existed little formal relationship with the Umsobomvu Youth Fund database and expressed disappointment that the database had been created without SAGDA being involved. They did interact when they were unable to assist possible employers. The two databases however differed in that SAGDA’s obviously was specific to graduates; the youth portal had a much broader mandate covering all young people.
SAGDA had until now only been able to use excel spreadsheet for maintaining their database. This did not allow for easy access, for example to locate graduates with a particular skill on a geographic basis. They were currently in the process of going to tender for a new Database Management System.
He noted that Members had in the past contacted the organisation to request statistics on unemployment of graduates. It was difficult for SAGDA to consolidate that kind of information and there was a real need for a sophisticated system.
Prince N Zulu (IFP) thanked Mr Midaka for his informative presentation. He stressed that the Committee wholly sympathised with the 40% of the population who faced unemployment. He noted that the presentation had stated that the legislative framework for youth development had been created and strategies had been conceived, all that was left was to deliver on expectations. He questioned what such expectations were.
He noted that the presentation included a list of SAGDA’s observations and analysis of the causes of graduate unemployment. This had highlighted that some graduates had an attitude of job entitlement and he sought clarity on what had been meant by this.
Mr Midaka explained that there was a perception amongst some graduates that on gaining a particular qualification, they were almost entitled to immediate employment. This notion hindered such students taking advantage of routes into employment such as learnerships.
He commented that SAGDA was aware of the very valuable learnerships that were available; however few targeted graduates.
Prince Zulu questioned what the relationship was between SAGDA and tertiary education institutions.
Mr Midaka replied that SAGDA had as yet not engaged in joint initiatives with tertiary education institutions, but they hoped to do so in future. He stressed that SAGDA had limited resources and lacked the capacity to engage or establish relationships at that level.
Mr Mzondeki (ANC) asked the presenter to highlight the demographics of SAGDA’s staff, their membership and location of its offices.
Mr Midaka explained that SAGDA only had offices in Gauteng. There were satellite offices specifically to implement funded projects, but after these projects were concluded SAGDA lacked the capacity and resources to maintain them.
Ms L Moss (ANC) asked if specific sectors could be identified where graduates were finding it hardest to find employment.
Mr Midaka identified the humanities and social sciences, but also IT and engineering. Black students appeared to be worst effected.
Mr O Mogale (ANC) noted that Professor Mwelase Welile Wazamisa (University of Cape Town: Ethics Department) was present and he believed Members would find it useful if he made an input.
Professor Wazamisa UCT thanked the Chair for the opportunity to engage in this discussion. He had intended to arrive a little earlier had to finish marking.
He believed this was an interesting theme for the Committee to deal with. He commented that the ASGISA policy had not fallen from the sky and the role of ASGISA was to address the concerns raised by SAGDA.
South African graduates experienced an alarmingly high unemployment rate. This had to be addressed by Government, the public sector and the graduates themselves. It was important to impress on the graduates that they needed to become creative and proactive if unemployment in this sector was to be overcome. He cited the example of countries like Japan and China where there was a culture of graduates taking the initiative themselves to create employment. The idea of graduate entitlement to employment was particularly dangerous.
He stressed that the situation was not so grim; it was a matter of people becoming proactive and being prepared to go out and finding ways of getting employment.
The Chair thanked Mr Midaka for his presentation, and Professor Wazamisa for his comments and insight.
The meeting was adjourned.
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