Public hearings on Youth Unemployment: briefing by Department

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Employment and Labour

13 November 2006
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Meeting report

LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
14 November 2006
PUBLIC HEARINGS ON YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT: RESPONSE BY DEPARTMENT

Chairperson
: Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department of Labour Report on Public Hearings on Youth Unemployment: Part1, Part2 & Part3
Draft Report of Portfolio Committee on Youth Unemployment

SUMMARY
The Department of Labour presented a summary of the submissions made during the public hearings on youth unemployment, held from 30 May, in a number of centres. The Department agreed that there was a need for integration of Youth Development Strategies. The Department then summarised the key submissions. The Department supported the promotion of cooperatives, and had contacted other relevant Departments. Five key issues had been isolated.  An integrated youth development strategy was critical. The Department was currently evaluating sector skills plans and compiling a scarce skills list. It acknowledged the research on people with disabilities. It commented that there were already programmes in place for rural education access. It had not supported the submissions by the Free Market Foundation, believing that the proposals were unconstitutional. It believed work was another mechanism to link the skills development and employment equity with all stakeholders. DOL faced challenges in addressing the incorrect perception that disabled people did not have the necessary skills, and in addressing reluctance of firms to employ ex-prisoners. It was committed to eradicating child labour. It was seeking solutions to the problems that graduates had in accessing finance.  Questions posed by members included the consultation process with other Departments, the strategy plans, the identification of skills and whether the training was closely allied to the needs of industry, the progress on eradication of child labour, the contribution of the Umsobomvu Youth Fund, monitoring by the Department, and cooperative efforts. The Committee would consider its own Draft Report early in 2007.

MINUTES
Response by Department of Labour on youth unemployment issues
Mr Sam Morotoba, Acting Deputy Director General, Human Resource Development and Skills Development, Department of Labour (DOL), tabled a full report to the Committee on the outcome of the public hearings held in the Western and Eastern Cape and Kwazulu Natal. The Department agreed that there was a need for integration of Youth Development Strategies. Mr Morotoba stated that the Department supported the promotion of cooperatives, and that worker co-operatives were central to employment creation and alleviation of poverty. He added that the celebration of the 30th anniversary of 16 June 1976 had shown that there were more important challenges confronting the youth of today, amongst which were youth unemployment and under-development, HIV/AIDS and poverty.

Mr Morotoba stated that the summary presented had identified the organisations and DOL had reproduced only their key recommendations. He also said that the Department had contacted other relevant Departments in regard to matters that were not the responsibility of DOL. Five key issues had been isolated that could be grouped together. Youth matters cut across a range of government departments and required a coordinated partnership effort, including coordination across all three spheres of government. An integrated youth development strategy was critical. Special interventions were needed to the plight to youth in rural areas, those without schooling, HIV and Aids, youth in conflict with the law, unemployed graduates, youth with disabilities, and new entrepreneurs. Suggested interventions included empowerment strategies, funding, and access to information. The rights of youth people enshrined in the constitution and other laws would have to be protected. Special job creation measures should target the youth in particular, given the high unemployment figures in this category. 

Mr Motoroba then turned to the specific submissions and commented that an integrated strategy would be able to address a number of areas. The Department supported the promotion of cooperatives and believed that Umsobomvu Youth Fund could become involved. DOL was busy evaluating sector skills plans and compiling a scarce skills list. The Department acknowledged the research on people with disabilities. The Department of Social Development and the Presidency also had other initiatives, including grants and integration programmes. In regard to the submissions by the Rural Education Access Programme, DOL interventions aimed at alleviating youth unemployment included learnerships, apprenticeships, skills programmes and bursaries, with the help of other government departments and local government. It was noted when young people qualified they tended to move to bigger cities. The Department did not support the submissions by the Free Market Foundation, believing that the proposals were unconstitutional, excluded workers from certain legislative protection, and would perpetuate tensions and a segmented labour market.

Mr Sabata Nakanyane, Executive Manager: Research, Policy and Planning, DOL, commented that although thee were a number of presentations, there were a number of common issues relating to child labour, young offenders, unemployment, access to finance, the labour market and flexibility. In regard to the submissions by the Disabled People of South Africa, he commented that work was another mechanism to link the skills development and employment equity with all stakeholders. DOL faced a challenge in addressing the incorrect perceptions that disabled people did not have the necessary skills. The Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative had made a recommendation that the Departments must try to prevent imprisonment of youth, but that in addition there must be attention focused on effective programmes that would equip prisoners and increase their chances of economic integration, to prevent their return to prison. Mr Nakanyane outlined the programmes already in place. With reference to the submissions by the Children’s Rights Project, he stated that the DOL was committed to eradicating child labour. He commented that DOL also acknowledged access to finances presented a major problem to graduates and DOL were exploring ways to link graduates to funding agencies.

Discussion
The Chairperson commented that the Committee would have to deal with the submissions of every organisation set out the report on to ensure that they covered matters affecting young people in different structures, before formulating the appropriate input.

Mr O Mogale (ANC) asked whether DOL had consulted other departments and whether it had engaged with the youth desks in formulating their strategic plan.

Mr Morotoba replied that they had done so, and had contacted the youth desks, although not every Department mentioned in the comments by the Department had as yet been contacted. 

Prince N Zulu (IFP) asked for clarity on some of the figures mentioned during the presentation, and also asked the Department to expand upon what it was doing.

Mr Nakanyane said that the Department had acknowledged the problems and the strategy was an attempt to respond to them. He stated that training alone would not solve the problems and cited the problem of prisoners being trained in skills while they were inmates, but not being trained as to how they could use those skills in an integrated society when they left prison.

Mr Morotoba added, in regard to those who had served terms of imprisonment, that many companies did not want to employ ex-prisoners as there was still a major stigma attached, which caused problems of employment.

Mr G Anthony (ANC) welcomed the report and proposed that on the final document DOL should give the number of organisations that made submissions, and how many had expressed their concern on certain issues.

Ms S Rajbally (MF) asked whether the Department would discuss with various industries which skills were in demand.

Mr Morotoba confirmed that the Department would do so, but that DOL would then have to come up with a plan which, in addition, would fit in to the Department’s strategy.

Ms Rajbally asked whether the youth were trained to according to the various skills in demand, as there was no point in having graduates who were not skilled in what the marketplace demanded.

Mr Morotoba said that there was such training, but the DOL was finding that companies were using agencies to recruit the employees.
 
Ms Rajbally then raised queries with regard with child labour, asking what progress has been made on outlawing it, how many employers were implicated, and what action had been taken.

Mr Nakanyane stated that although there had been an improvement in dealing with this, there was still a great deal to be done, and the DOL needed to improve its strategy on this issue.

Mr C Lowe (DA) asked whether the final report would be debated in the House, and whether there would be further opportunity to discuss this report, given the statistics of unemployment in the country.

Mr Morotoba stated that the Department could only implement what had been passed by Parliament.

The Chairperson emphasised that the Committee must remember that the objective in debating the issue was to formulate suggestions that would specifically assist the youth.

Mr S Siboza (ANC) asked whether the Department had a strategy to monitor the various bodies, especially Umsobomvu Youth Funds, to determine whether they were assisting in terms of job creation and what impact they were actually making on the ground.

Mr Nakanyane replied that the Umsobomvu Youth Fund was certainly assisting. There was a database of all graduates and Umsobomvu became the government agency to ensure that young people could obtain skills and learnerships after tertiary education.

Mr E Mtshali (ANC) asked what form cooperatives were taking and whether Umsobomvu was effective in terms of job creation.

Mr Morotoba said that there was still a problem with companies not wanting to employ those who had served prison sentences, and this was a national issue needing to be addressed. He also commented that there was a need, both in urban and rural areas for government to provide land to train the youth in agriculture. Provision of land would help create jobs and increase cooperatives in the rural areas .He also said that many big businesses were still only concerned with making profits and not with engaging in cooperative enterprises. Finally, he remarked that the establishment of the Umsobomvu Youth Fund was a response by government to the current challenges of unemployment facing the youth of the country.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee’s own Draft Report would only be discussed early in 2007.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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