Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane on Saturday referred to the high rate of unemployment among young South Africans as a “ticking time bomb”.
Addressing a Youth Day rally at the Fort Hare University in Alice in the Eastern Cape‚ Maimane said that for those under the age of 24‚ there was a two in three chance of being employed.
“That’s our ticking time bomb. We cannot even think of building a prosperous country if we don’t have a plan to bring our young people into the economy‚” he said.
But while young people needed to be able to find employment‚ they were also needed to become employers.
“We need to foster a culture of entrepreneurship‚ and then do all we can to ensure that our young entrepreneurs succeed. Not just for their sake‚ but for the sake of our country. Our collective future depends on it.
“We must accept that not everyone leaving school will qualify for higher education‚ and so our plan must include a range of options for everyone. We must dramatically expand internships and apprenticeships for school-leavers. But we must go beyond that and consider solutions like a year of national youth civilian service. Anything to enable young people to get a foot on the jobs ladder‚” Maimane added.
Opening opportunities for young South Africans must be an obsessive focus‚ he said.
“Ours must be a cradle-to-career plan that includes improving our early childhood development centres‚ fixing our failing basic education system and expanding access to tertiary education‚ with a truly progressive funding model where the poor are subsidised but those who can afford to pay do so.”
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