Presidential Youth Employment Initiative making strides

Between April and June this year, at least 135 000 earning opportunities were secured by young people through the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative’s (PYEI) National Pathway Management Network.

Some 108 061 of these were accessed through the SA Youth platform with 27 088 opportunities scored through the Department of Employment and Labour’s Employment Services of South Africa (ESSA) website.

This was revealed during a media briefing on Monday to update the nation on the progress made by the PYEI.

The PYEI was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa during 2020 as an intervention to rising youth unemployment in South Africa.

Speaking to SAnews, Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Kenny Morolong said it is critical for the PYEI to receive more funding in order to reach more young people.

“That is why we are engaging [National] Treasury and are awaiting a pronouncement during the MTBPS period because the recapitalisation of the PYI programme will go a long way in reaching out to many other young people who have yet to transition from learning to earning.

“Over 4.1 million young people are participating in the platform at no cost. There is evidence that they are being linked to opportunities and those opportunities are critical for their livelihoods. It is a programme that we intend to sustain and that is why discussions are ensuing with National Treasury to recapitalise it,” Morolong said.

Reflecting on the current employment challenges, the Deputy Minister spoke on the need to create pathways into the economy for youth not only as employees but as entrepreneurs.

“It is important to get young people participating in the mainstream economy. This programme is also critical because it exposes young people to self-employment opportunities; that is why we encourage young people to take full advantage of it,” he said.

According to the PYEI dashboard, since its April 2020 inception, some 4.1 million people have registered and are accessing the SA Youth platform and more than 1 million earning opportunities have been secured by young people.

Young women taking opportunities

Director of the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative, Lerato Shai, told the media briefing that of the work opportunities accessed by young people, at least 70% of these were accessed by young women.

“What we are learning through SA Youth, is that young women continue to face specific barriers even as progress is being made. In particular…more young women are actually getting educated than young men. We are seeing more women that are educated, that are tenacious but they’re still facing substantial barriers once they enter into the labour market with many of them being far less employed and, where they are, earning far less than what men earn in the same jobs.

“What we do see is that if there is intentional design in the programmes to really tackle the barriers that are affecting young women, especially in male dominated sectors, women…take up these opportunities and they run with them and they create new pathways for themselves.

“What we really are seeing is that to tip the scale towards more equity, we need a systemic shift. So it’s not about jobs for girls, but employment systems that actually work for women,” Shai said.

Turning to the Youth Employment Service (YES), Shai said this initiative is also dominated by young women.

“They are supporting just over 58% of young women and since its inception, they’ve managed to really start to generate the kind of demand and access to opportunities we are wanting to see in the private sector with 42% of their alumni employed in permanent or contract roles.

“So YES really is starting to shift the trajectory and…create pathways to earning for young women,” she said.

Source: South African Government News Agency