Address by Makhubele Mashele at the occasion of the Debate on the President's State of the Nation Address

13 February 2019, Cape Town

Youth Employment, Youth Empowerment and Tourism in South Africa

Your Excellency President
Hon Ministers and Deputies,
Hon Members,
Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen

The vision of our country, as outlined by the President, lies in us investing in our youth. Our youth should be given skills that will make them economically active citizens of the country.

As a country, we must envisage the future that we want, and sharpen the intellectual, social, and economic awareness of the future citizens who will take the baton from us.

The Youth are the greatest resource and necessary force for improving the productivity and sustained growth of all the sectors of our economy.

In the bigger scheme of things, the future and the youth are inseparable - the future is the youth and the youth is the future.

We firmly believe that, the coherent and achievable plans set out in The African National Congress 2019 Elections manifesto concerning the youth is in accord with their needs and aspirations. The plans and targets are realistic and achievable.

It is an undeniable fact that, Millions of Young people have benefited from tailored programmes, policies and opportunities created by the Government.

Over the past 25 years, government have worked tirelessly to reduce youth unemployment and skills shortages.

The African National Congress led Administration is under no illusion, of the difficulties, and obstacles that are encountered along the road to a better future for all South Africans, specifically for the Youth who comprise of a dynamic, enthusiastic, resourceful, creative, innovative and adventurous population.

The National Youth Policy was based on the consciousness of the historical and current imbalances and realities, to build a non-racist, non-sexist democratic South Africa in which young people, not only enjoy and contribute to their full potential in the social, economic and political spheres of life, but also recognise and develop their responsibilities to build a better life for all.

One of the major tenets of the National Youth Policy is economic participation. The policy was developed in the backdrop of various interventions to improve the opportunities and skills of young people, which for a long time have lacked impact.

Hon Members,

In a move to create one million new work opportunities for young people , the Youth Employment Service initiative has already found placements for over 4600 young people in 2018. This figure is not necessarily impressive given the rate of youth unemployment in the country, but is a good start.

Currently, the focus of the Youth Employment Service initiative is on getting corporate partners on board. It is appreciated that a total of 248 companies in South Africa have joined this initiative to place young people for high quality work experiences within their own organisations, or they have sponsored a youth placement in an SMME - preferably within their own supply chain.

One of the highlight in 2018 was the launch of Youth Employment Service' first Community Hub, which is situated in Tembisa, in Gauteng. The Hub's aim is to provide business infrastructure in rural areas and township communities.

The YES initiative aims to establish 100 community hubs across the country. The hubs form part of YES' SMME Development Strategy, which has three focus areas housed in YES Community Hubs, namely, business development, route to market, and skills training.

The President reported that progress is being made in the areas of installation, repair and maintenance jobs, digital and tech jobs like coding and data analytics, as well as global business services.

These will enable the absorption of more youth - especially those exiting schools and colleges, and those not in any education, training or employment - into productive economic activity and further work opportunities.

We highly commend the government for deciding that the requirement for work experience at entry-level in state institutions will be done away with. This has been a huge hindrance for the qualified first time job seekers. As the President indicated, this gives our young people a real head start in the job market.
This bold move proves that the Government of the National African Congress takes youth issues seriously, and wants South Africa to work for everyone.

We hope the next to follow, will be removal stringent assessment criteria, when young people seek funding for starting their own businesses. Because these stringent measures hinders and prohibits young people to start up business. If we are to talk about a Real Head Start for young people, there must be concerted efforts to remove these red tapes.

The KZN Youth Fund designed to assist young entrepreneurs is a typical funding model aimed to assisting deserving young people to kick-start their business ventures, fund new innovative business ideas and expand young peoples existing businesses without red tape associated with the traditional ways of accessing funding.

President we hope government will emulate the KZN youth funding model and ensure that all 9 Provinces of the Country set aside a Youth Fund for businesses.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us. At a global level, the economy is being driven by this Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterised by evolving technological trends that have the potential to fundamentally change the future of work in our country as well.

The artificial intelligence is also threatening the nature of the future work in South Africa. We are happy, Hon President, that the government is cognisant of these global trends and is planning to equip our youth with the requisite skills to remain competitive in the global village.

The country must adequately prepare for these changes, with a view to maximise the potential benefits imbued by these technological changes.

We therefore welcome the Presidential Commission on the 4th Industrial Revolution that will ensure that as a country we effectively and with greater urgency harness technological changes in pursuit of inclusive growth and social development. We also urge our youth to explore all the opportunities availed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The youth should realise that there are more job and entrepreneurial opportunities for people with artisan skills. So it is not everyone who should finish matric and go to universities, others must pursue the artisan fields.

The National Artisan Development Centre has also created job opportunities for artisans across the country. The national Development Plan stipulates that the country must produce 30 000 artisans per annum, and the National Artisan Development Centre is ensuring these targets are realised.

The government of the people the ANC has also established the Sector Education and Training Authorities - SETAs - for a number of economic sectors in the country. We encourage learners to continue utilising and maximising opportunities availed by the SETAs and the National Skills Fund - funded artisan learnerships or apprenticeship opportunities, to access artisan training in the various fields of engineering and services areas.

The Youth Development Programme implemented by the Department of Social Development has also played a big role in the lives of our young people. This programme focuses on providing appropriate coordinated support, even to the extent where young people are afforded a second chance to develop themselves after any setback in life, for young people.

Such programme builds on the strengths of young people through skills development and community service in order to facilitate personal growth, volunteerism and accountability. This lays the foundation for a positive future and helping youth to become responsible. Youth Person there is always a second chance to achieving and realizing your full potential.

The President indicated that the government is focusing attention on policies and programmes on the key parts of the economy that are labour intensive, which include agriculture, tourism and the ocean economy.
It is indeed an irrefutable fact that tourism, as a growing economic sector, provides myriad opportunities for job creation for the youth. Tourism is a labour-intensive sector and is already providing a much-needed solution for youth unemployment.

The emphasis put by the government on tourism is encouraging. Both in your maiden SoNa in 2018 and now in 2019 you have shown that you understand the barriers inhibiting tourism growth and what needs to be done to maximise benefits from this sector.

Hon Chairperson

As the Portfolio Committee of Tourism we are in constant communication with organised tourism business represented by The Tourism Business Council of South Africa. I am aware that the President recently held a meeting with these industry representatives where issues including the obstacles facing the tourism sector such as the immigration regulations - particularly unabridged birth certificates and visas - tourism vehicle permits, China/India focus, infrastructure, and more recently, the industry concerns over the decline in forward bookings, were raised.

You will be pleasantly surprised Your Excellency, that as parliament, we have been engaging the Minister of Tourism and the marketing Entity - South African Tourism - to develop The China Strategy. We hope the Minister of Tourism and SA Tourism will urgently develop the India and China strategies to harness these largest and fastest growing markets.

We also look forward to a focussed approach towards harnessing tourism growth from the African continent. If the intended increase of international tourists of 21 million by 2030 is to be realised.

I would like to commend and thank the President in the role you played in the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Immigration Regulations. We have started to see an improvement in the numbers of international arrivals. We also appreciate the Visa related reforms that will facilitate ease of access for the international tourists and business investors in general.

We therefore welcome the announcement that the highest priority will be placed on the introduction of a world class eVisa regime this year.

The issues of demand and supply in tourism are being attended to as the Department of Tourism has established a Programme dealing with destination management. This, combined with enhanced destination marketing and measures to strengthen tourism safety, as you said in your speech Hon President, will create the conditions for the growth we envisage, and the jobs and opportunities that will follow.

In promoting youth employment, the National Department of Tourism conducted a sector skills audit which culminated in the development of the Tourism Sector Human Resources Development Strategy. This strategy targets the entire tourism sector, and the youth in particular. The strategy is already yielding positive benefits for the youth, since it has provided a number of training, employment, and business opportunities for our young people. The youth are now employed in decent jobs in the sector, and young tourism entrepreneurs are starting and operating their own businesses.

In 2018 alone, 488 Young People, from across the country graduated in these tailored programmes. The African National Congress Government is pleased to report that, over the years, some graduates have opened their own restaurants and others have been employed as Executive Chefs abroad in countries such as Seychelles.

Tourism should not be an afterthought; but must be an integral part of all relevant government departments planning.

We urge the government to remove all the unnecessary barriers that inhibit faster growth of the sector. As the President is well aware, tourism is a volatile service sector that thrives on the optimum collaboration of many government departments. We call upon other sector departments to play their expected roles in facilitating tourism growth.

We are however, concerned about the reports that some international airlines are still not clear about practical implications of the revised immigration regulations, thus are still refusing people travelling with minors to board their planes. We urge the Ministers of Home affairs and Tourism to address this matter urgently with the organised tourism business in the country, The International Air Transport Association (IATA), and other affected stakeholders to bolster inbound tourism.

Late mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said at the National Youth day in Tshwane in 2015 " … Youth are the future of this country so it is important for us to give them hope. We look forward to them taking over the mettle."

Therefore, as the state, we should partner with the youth today to ensure a brighter, stable, and prosperous future for our country. And as a developmental state, we should acknowledge that our youth are the important actors in shaping our country's development.

I thank you