Event Reports

Youth Employment Enterprise & Skills-Summit

Youth Employment Enterprise & Skills-Summit

The conference targeted the high youth unemployment rate South Africa and aimed at not only the identification of its major causes but also at the development of doable solutions to deal with the problem on the local level in Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape). The conference brought together unemployed youths, prospective employers and civil society organizations which assist the youths to find employment to exchange information on ways to deal with youth unemployment.

While the overall official unemployment rate in South Africa is currently about 25% among young people aged 18 to 35, according to unofficial estimates, it’s a daunting 60%. The aim of the conference was to identify factors that cause youth unemployment as well as identify solutions to deal with the problem on the local level in Port Elizabeth. This conference brought together the unemployed youth, prospective employers and civil society organizations which assist the youth to find employment and exchange information on ways to deal with youth unemployment. The conference consisted of various plenary session and also workshops.

Firstly, Mr Whitfield, Member of Mayoral Committee and Portfolio Chairman of Economic Development, encouraged young people to know the basic skills of finding a job and that once they are given an opportunity to prove themselves they must pull their weight and ensure that they reach their full potential. Young people must not only look for employment in their field of study but they must widen their scope. He further mentioned that youth employment is a priority for the Democratic Alliance in Port Elizabeth. However, according to Whitfield government does not create jobs rather it creates an enabling environment for job creation. The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is in the process of creating a job desk for unemployed youths which will link the youth with prospective employers. Subsequently, Mr Tilmann Feltes, KAS Project Manager provided participants with information about Germany‘s dual system of vocational training where school graduates are exposed to engineering, technological, electrical, building related, agricultural and other occupations. He encouraged the youth to not only focus on academia but to also look at jobs as artisans.

Session two was a panel comprised of young people. The panel was titled the youth employment challenge, real stories, real solutions. The panel was facilitated by Nwabisa Makunga, Deputy Editor of The Herald Newspaper which is the top daily newspaper in Nelson Mandela Bay. There were panellists from Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, Helenvale Youth, Black Management Forum-Student Wing, Black Hat Academy. Harambee equips young people with skills to find jobs and it also matches young people with prospective employers. To date Harambee placed 35 000 young people in jobs. Black Hat Academy is a youth driven organization helping young people with leadership skills. The Black Management Forum aims to create a new breed of young leaders who are in charge of their destiny and who can be leaders of tomorrow. Helenvale Youth helps young people with skills for finding jobs. According to the panellists young people are often seen as an risky investment and therefore are not employed. Some of the solutions to deal with youth unemployment as identified by the panel are that the youth must change their mind-set towards jobs by accepting any opportunity which they are offered. The youth must grab opportunities presented to them.

In the following Session employers and mentors were talking about the youth that are engaged, enterprising and evolving. The panellists were representatives of the Ikhala Trust, Famhealth, Transformation Christian Network, Aefesis Cor-Plan, Leap Enterprise Development, ABSA and Propella Incubator. They came up with ideas to help the youth to secure employment such as to look for gaps around them and find creative ways of filling them, to look for a mentor to help with ideas on job-seeking; to use technology to look for employment or to not let material circumstances/family background define one’s capabilities.

Afterwards the participants came together in small groups and looked at responses to youth employment interventions. During this session everyone had an opportunity to share their viewpoints.