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LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
31 July 2006
YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT: DEPARTMENT RESPONSE TO PUBLIC SUBMISSIONS
Chairperson: Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Department's Summary of Submissions on Youth Unemployment
International Labour Organisation’s report on global youth unemployment (www.ilo.org/trends)
The Department of Labour presented the Committee with a summary of the main points that had been raised during the public hearings on youth unemployment. Since the Committee still had to undertake a visit to the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal to hear further submissions, the Department would present its comprehensive response at a later stage. The Department emphasised that youth unemployment was a concern of many departments and that the hearings required a response from a number of departments. Members agreed that the public hearings had been an eye-opener. It was suggested that Members submit comments on challenges experienced by youth in their constituencies as well as consider the International Labour Organisation’s report on global youth unemployment which contained proposals that could be implemented in South Africa. It was also felt that the Committee should pronounce itself very clearly as far as, amongst others, the suggestion to exempt those born after 2 February 1990 from affirmative action measures.
The Chairperson welcomed members back from their constituencies. He noted that the meeting would be brief since the Committee had not yet finalised certain matters emanating from the public hearings. Also the Committee (split into two groups) still had to visit KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Province paying special attention to rural areas that might not have been that well represented during the public hearings. Thereafter the Committee would finalise its report. August would thus be a busy month for the Committee since it also marked the 50th anniversary of the Women’s March as well as the launch of the Progressive Women’s Organisation in the Free State. Since the Committee had not yet formally met to discuss the submissions made at the hearings, it would not discuss the DOL’s briefing. It would only compile a report on the hearings once it had visited the two provinces.
Department of Labour (DOL) briefing
Mr Sam Morotoba, Acting Deputy General of Employment and Skills Development: DOL, led the delegation. He explained that the DOL’s report would be three tiered. The first part summarised the major points raised by the organisations that had made submissions. The second part of the report, to be submitted later, would detail what the DOL was doing as far as these issues were concerned. He emphasised that youth matters cut across quite a number of departments and that there were a number of initiatives that were being undertaken by other departments too. The DOL felt that it would be fitting for other departments to also respond to some of the issues raised during the hearings. This would then form the third part of the DOL’s report. The Department was in the process of lobbying and consulting with other departments to ensure that its final report presented a collective response. The Portfolio Committee could then, in conjunction with other relevant portfolio committees, consider all the recommendations.
Mr Morotoba highlighted the main points raised in the submissions. Some of these dealt with:
- The Integrated Youth Development Strategy, which was meant to ensure greater accountability amongst youth programmes and uniformity across all three spheres of government.
- Skills development and the meeting of employment equity targets for people with disabilities.
- The possibility of granting a two-year special exemption certificate to unemployed persons.
- Concerns around the availability of information on training for mobility-impaired persons.
- The Tuks Afrikaanse Studente suggestion that affirmative action not be applicable to people born after 2 February 1990 had resulted in much debate during the hearings.
- The South African Graduates Development Association proposal that unemployed graduates be used in literacy programmes.
- The Vaal University of Technology’s concern around guidance as far as course choice at university level were also raised.
Mr Morotoba noted that the input resulting from the Committee’s visit to the two provinces would be added to this part of the report. The DOL had drafted a response to the submissions but would wait upon the completion of the visits before briefing the Committee on its response.
The Chair thanked the Department for its presentation and she reiterated that the Committee had not yet finished the public hearing process. The Committee was still going to visit the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal between 7 to 9 August to hear the views of people and organisations that had be unable to present submissions in Cape Town.
She commented that the Committee would need to engage with different departments and their shadow Portfolio Committees on issues which overlapped departments. She specifically mentioned the Department of Health, Department of Public Works and Department of Social Development.
The fact that the document presented to the Committee was only a preliminary summary of the Department's views and responses to the public hearings, should not stop Members engaging with the DoL on the issues raised.
Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) commented that youth unemployment was a cross cutting issue, he believed that all Members representing constituencies would have come across relevant case studies and complaints from constituents regarding unemployment amongst the youth. He suggested that it may be useful if MPs also tabled their own submissions, the Department would then be in a position to respond to each issue individually.
The Chair conferred with Mr Mshudulu on the matter, and encouraged Members to table their own submissions.
Mr B Mkongi (ANC) felt that the public hearings had really been an eye opener, enabling Members to look at issues of unemployment with better understanding of its implications and impact on young people.
He believed it was important that the Committee relate its own report, to that of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on global youth unemployment. There were many proposals contained in that report which could be implemented in South Africa.
The Committee needed to understand the databases the DoL had already developed on general unemployment and more specifically on youth unemployment. He commented that public hearings should not be conducted merely for the sake of having a hearing. They were held for the purpose of interrogating how Parliament could intervene.
Mr O Mogale (ANC) said that the Committee faced disabling time restraints, so he did not see it being able to engage with the report before them. He suggested that the Committee conduct the provincial public hearings first, and then engage with the Department on how to take the youth unemployment matter forward.
The Chair noted that when the Committee dealt with the Department's final report, it would set aside a whole day to thoroughly review the document, and question the Department.
Mr W Spies (FF) commented that the summary of the submissions showed that many valuable points had been proposed across the board. He felt that the Department faced the challenge of trying to “reconcile the irreconcilable”. He hoped that when the Department reviewed the submissions and looked for answers they could do so in a manner that was really inclusive, and would accommodate everything that had been said.
Mr Mkongi believed that there needed to be further debate on the issues raised. Discussion should focus on several core issues plus the Department needed to clearly pronounce their stance on these. These were identified as:
- The proposed exemption of people born after 2 February 1990, from benefiting from affirmative action policies;
- The proposed two-tier labour market system raised by both the Free Market Foundation and COSATU;
- The proposal for a youth economic empowerment strategy.
Mr P Zulu (ANC) commented that he had feared that the process of holding youth unemployment hearings would create unfounded expectations. Fortunately there had been no such unrealistic expectations, and he believed the hearings were a success.
He continued that it would be beneficial for the Committee to hear the different departments response to the matters that were under their jurisdiction. This might shed some light on what Mr Spies had described as the need to “reconcile the irreconcilable”.
The Chair suggested that the Committee conclude the meeting as it could not interrogate the matter further before engaging with the provinces. She reiterated Mr Mshudulu’s point that it might be useful for Members make their own submissions as informed by their constituencies
Mr Moratoba thanked Members for their suggestions as they had given the Department a degree of direction.
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