23 May 2010, Johannesburg

The Young Communist League of South Africa (uFasimba) held a successful “Jobs for Youth Summit” from the 20th to the 21st of May 2010 in Johannesburg. The Summit was attended by more than 250 delegates representing 84 youth organisations from most political youth formations. They constituted of civil society, NGO`s, young professionals and business organisations, disabled and women organisations, students, unemployed graduates and organisations of unemployed youth.

The Summit was addressed by the Ministers of Economic Development, Trade and Industry and Higher Education and Skills Development. The Secretary of Defense (Mpumi Mpofu) and the General Secretary of Cosatu (Zwelinzima Vavi) also addressed the Summit.

We are satisfied that the Summit has been able:

  • To look into the state and causes of youth unemployment in South Africa;
  • To engage with government, private sector and civil society plans on economic policy landscape, IPAP 2, education, skills development and youth employment creation;
  • To assess progress in youth skills development and discuss a way forward;
  • To determine a youth perspective on youth employment creation, Black Economic Empowerment and Affirmative Action; and
  • To Mobilise young people to speak with one voice in the struggle against unemployment
    Jobs for Youth Coalition

The Summit declared to establish a “Jobs for Youth Coalition”, which will serve as its secretariat for the implementation of the Summit resolutions. The immediate task of the Coalition will be to represent South African young people at the forthcoming Youth Employment Summit (YES) to be held in Sweden from 2-5 June 2010, the World Youth Conference to be held in Mexico in August and the World Federation of Democratic Youth Festival to be held in South Africa from 13 December 2010.

The Coalition will also draft a “Jobs for Youth Charter” to be unveiled during the commemoration of the Youth Month (June). The Coalition will seek to lobby government, private sector, finance agencies such as IDC and Khula, Sector Education and Training Authorities, National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), the Presidency and institutions deemed to be instrumental in job creation for young people to endorse the Charter.

The other role of the Summit will be to immediately convene Provincial Youth Summits in order to broaden consultation. The provincial summits will also serve as platforms to pressurise provincial governments to commit to youth employment targets.

Changing the Structure of our Economy

At present, South Africas economy is still significantly reliant in many areas on the import of fully manufactured or processed goods as if the country is not rich with natural resources. Even the advanced manufacturing sectors of our countrys economy are still characterised by high levels of components import or the import of Complete Knock Down (CKD) or Semi Knock Down (SKD) kits. Our country`s economic production remains largely embedded in the colonial legacy of extraction and export of unprocessed minerals, agricultural products, marine resources and other raw materials, and the import of finished goods. To the youth, who constitute 70 percent of the persistently high unemployment rate, this is tantamount to the export of direly needed jobs.

The Summit agreed that in order to create a platform for youth to be absorbed into the labour market, government has to drastically change the structure of our economy to focus more on economic growth that is geared towards supporting initiatives aimed at manufacturing goods locally and value-adding. We noted that high unemployment rates amongst young people is not a new trend, and that even when South Africa recorded high growth rates, unemployment was still at the same level. We have to change the economy from being service and consumption oriented into a highly productive economy.

Ownership of the economy

The Summit expressed concerns over the slow pace of changing the ownership patterns in our economy. As it is now, most of the economic sectors rely on BEE Charters which only commits industries to not more than 30% black ownership. This has serious implications for both the economic and political stability of our country as it continues to exclude the majority from the mainstream economy. Action needs to be done in advocating for policy changes that should result in turning the situation around. The same, unfortunately, goes for land redistribution, which was a cause for concern for the delegates, and called on government and landowners to accelerate this process.

The summit called for the government to take a lead in social mobilisation to implement economic transformation, equitable development and job creation. It is generally agreed that this must involve measures to develop productive forces and provide support to achieve complete value-added manufacturing and processing of finished goods at least in all the areas of our vast natural resources. As the youth, we believe that this will go a long way in contributing to job creation.

The Summit agreed on the need for government, through the Industrial Policy Action Plan II, to support youth led innovation as part of the drive towards strengthening manufacturing.

Reducing the Cost of Job Hunting

The youth are troubled by the high cost of looking for jobs, establishing youth enterprises and lack of adequate support to real entrepreneurs as opposed to tenderpreneurs.

The way in which public service jobs and economic opportunities that are offered by the state are advertised, is as disadvantageous to the presently disadvantaged young people as the way private sector jobs are advertised mainly through the private media and cutting edge information and technology systems. Unemployment, complexities of mobility and lack of access to technology represent barriers of access to information on both public and private sector jobs and economic opportunities offered by the state. This is coupled with a high cost of applying for jobs.

The Summit called on the Department of Labour to include in its services at its Labour Centres information on vacancies, train them to prepare professional CV`s, help them to prepare for job interviews, be a platform to access information technology and access to email and internet.

Focusing on Quick Gains

In order to create more than 650 000 jobs immediately, the Summit called on government to fill in vacancies in all spheres of government and public enterprises. This will cost the state and its public enterprises not more than R6.5bn, which is the total spent on the government led lay-off schemes and rescue packages. It was also agreed that companies that were closed down as a result of the global economic recession, should be resuscitated as worker-controlled co-operatives supported through government. The Summit committed to identify such companies, organise the affected workers and help them rebuild this companies. This has happened before, for instance, in Argentina in the late 90`s when the economy plummeted, and workers took over the running of deserted factories, some of which are still sustainable today.

Education and Skills Development

The Summit agreed to endorse the call by the Minister of Higher Education on the reconfiguration of the SETA`s, the need for their partnership with public FET and Higher Education institutions and their concentration on apprenticeships and artisan training. The Summit noted the fact that more than R180bn was invested in infrastructure towards the building of roads and stadiums in the build-up to the FIFA World Cup, and the fact that this will need maintenance. Artisans and Apprentice should be at the centre of this maintenance. The Summit called on the Minister of Higher Education to commit into targets for the training of such.

The Summit also welcomed the National Student Financial Aid (NSFAS) Review Committee Report and called for the immediate implementation of its recommendations as this will create access to further and higher education for needy and deserving students. This should target the more than 2 million young people who are neither working nor learning.

National Service proposed by Defence

The Summit also endorsed the National Service as proposed by the Minister of Defence and committed to recruit young people to participate in the introductory phase in September at Saldhana Base. The Summit further urged the Minister and government to discuss the role of the military during peacetime. There are engineers who should be helping service delivery distressed municipalities, doctors who should be preventing mortality death in public hospitals and so forth. This constitutes an important element if we are to have new recruits into the military.

As the youth we believe that a transformed curriculum, quality education, properly guided training and skills development based on the needs of the people and the economy are important in the development of productive forces. In this regard the summit noted with concern our economy`s low levels of investment, in Research and Development (R&D) as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) both in public and private sectors.

Whereas still important under the circumstances our country faces, Import Substitution Industrialisation (ISI) strategies and the welcome Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) schemes such as the Automotive Production Development Programme (APDP) cannot be relied upon on a sustainable, long-term basis or forever.

R&D are central in breaking new grounds in the areas of discoveries, inventions, innovations, designs, in ultimate two words, product development. These are part of the important economic activities our country needs to cure the “Dutch Disease” it’s suffering from and thereby beneficiate its vast natural resources, alter ownership and control in the economy and advance real, mass empowerment. These measures stand to contribute positively to the defence of our country’s national sovereignty, at least first from imperial restructuring that is imposed through such other measures as investment conditionality’s which are demanded by global governance institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but as well as MNC’s. The youth across the political spectrum who attended the summit are prepared to defend our country’s national sovereignty and have a shared sense of patriotism, thus committed to working together on what unites them.

Black Economic Empowerment and Affirmative Action

The Summit noted the failure of the majority of BEE deals to truly empower youth, women and people with disabilities. We are very concerned that many BEE beneficiaries may actually be tokens meant to facilitate the procurement of government tenders, and have absolutely no interest in the daily operations of their companies by just being shareholders. The Summit also raised objection to the growing tendency towards tenderpreneurship at the expense of youth entrepreneur. The delegates resolved to support youth initiatives that seek to promote black ownership of the economy, and will be involved in projects that train young people in enterprise and co-operative development.

Green Jobs

The summit noted that most of the green jobs products are not manufactured in South Africa but are instead largely imported. Were these products to be manufactured locally, for instance, in the production of solar geysers, more than 200 000 jobs and hundreds of co-operatives and SMME’s would be created. The green jobs area is thus an important area for South Africa to develop productive capacity, but not only as part of youth employment creation strategy but also as part of sustainable development strategy and the avoidance of an ecological dead-end.

For more information

Gugu Ndima
National Spokesperson
076 783 1516