More transparency called for in government skills development programmes

Industry has welcomed new government initiatives – such as the National Youth Policy 2020 (NYP 2020) – to help improve youth employability through skills development, but has called for better feedback on the success of these initiatives.

The National Youth Policy 2020 (NYP 2020) aims to reduce South Africa’s unemployment rate from the current 26.6% to 16% by 2020 by pushing skills development among the youth, said the deputy minister in the Presidency responsible for planning monitoring and evaluation, Buti Manamela, speaking at the Youth Infrastructure Development 2016 Conference in Durban last Friday.

Manamela said that government would improve public employment schemes such as the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), Youth Brigades and the Community Works Programmes through the NYP 2020. “These programmes help improve youth employability, skills development and help to get them on the first rung of the empowerment ladder,” he said.

Septi Bukula, independent economic consultant and chairman of the board of the Institute of Business Advisers, welcomed government interventions such as the NYP 2020, commenting that one of South Africa’s most pressing issues was the “depressingly high rate of economic exclusion of young people”. He added that business was however kept mostly in the dark about how effective these programmes were. “We need quality feedback on how these initiatives are doing. But more importantly, we need more large-scale and multi-faceted interventions.”

Juliette Fourie, founder and CEO of logistics and supply chain training company, MetroMinds, agreed, telling FTW Online that there was a “huge” skills gap for matriculants who suddenly found themselves in the job market – particularly for the logistics industry. “School leavers are simply not equipped to enter the job market. They are not exposed enough to the career options and they don’t even have the basic skills to manage in a working environment – thus posing a risk to companies who do give them a chance,” she said.

She said industry learnerships did still play a major role but that bridging courses – to make matriculants more employable – were a vitally important cog in the overall skills development machine. “Intervention should be at secondary level as well,” added Fourie.

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