Briefing Notes for the Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour: Launch of the Mdantsane Youth Centre
29 June 2022

Youth unemployment is seen as a major national challenge and needs urgent and coordinated responses to address it.  The education and training system suffer from relatively high drop-out rates, low pass rates, and fail to address the challenge of high unemployment. The country's jobless rate rose to 34.5%, the expanded unemployment rate is 45.5%.  Graduate unemployment is 21,9%. 39.8% of the unemployed have less than a matric, whilst 36.5% have matric.  A worrisome picture is presented by the Not in Education and not in Employment or Training (NEETs), Youth aged 15-24 recorded an unemployment rate of 63.9% whilst those between 25-34 years recoded an unemployment rate of 42.1%. I am sure that all of us in the room today cannot accept this situation which threatens to destroy our future. As noted in the National Planning Commission's Diagnostic Report of 2011, the high youth unemployment represents the "greatest risk to social stability in South Africa". The opening of this Centre in Mdantsane, is significant as the official unemployment rate for the province is 44% and the expanded definition is 52.6%.


We need to jointly own make the youth Centre successful, we need to put aside our differences and work for the common good.


When Statsa released the QLFS numbers it was another Moment of truth that demands that we take concrete actions that can lead to a changed reality. Mind-sets need to change, innovations need to be sought and collaborations, strengthened to bring about a halt to the staggering unemployment amongst youth.  It is for this reason that I have requested my Department to start working on a comprehensive Employment Policy, to co-ordinate the actions of relevant role-players that can make a difference. I am happy to announce that there has been a coming together of some of the brightest minds in the country to start this important task. The situational analysis is complete and the first draft of the Employment Policy will soon be made available for further comment and enrichment. 

The Department is already in an advanced stage of piloting through the National Labour Migration Policy and the relevant amendments to the Employment Services Act, 2014. The intention is to bring about more orderly labour migration and protect local jobs, which South Africans are more than equipped to fill. The bill aims to limit migration to the scarce and critical skills that the country requires, this is a common practice in most developed nations.


Our analysis of the South African labour market suggests that unemployment is a structural phenomenon rather than a frictional outcome of the vagaries of the business cycle. As such policy needs to consider a combination of market and non-market approaches to employment and work-seeker support and activation mechanisms that follow areas of growing labour demand.


The key to combating high unemployment among young people is forging stronger connections among employers, education providers, and youth themselves to build skills that lead to entry-level jobs in growth sectors. It is for this reason that I have asked the Department to include in its recently approved annual performance plan an indicator that relates directly to forming collaborative partnerships.


The aim is to get everyone working towards a solution. The problem of unemployment cannot be solved by the Department alone, it is everyone's responsibility. The district development model, and the call for joined up government, is being heeded. A number of Government Departments and municipalities are now working together to find solutions.


The Department of Employment and Labour, has 126 labour centres as well as several satellite offices with permanent officials, in the nine provinces. Within labour centres the public are offerred various sevices, that are relevant to both workers, workseekers and employers. This ranges from the services of inspectors, unemployment insurance, compensation fund and public employment services (PES).

PES uses an electronic system (ESSA) on which the work-seekers can register their skills and experience and employers can register work and learning opportunities. One of the biggest barriers to employment, is the high cost of job search, that thousands of workseekers face. It is for this reason that, the Department has established Labour centres close to each community. For those registered on the ESSA system, the Department, assists with the compilation of CV's, job search, career counselling, job matching, lifeskills sessions and can also refer work seekers to labour activation programes to assist work seekers to improve their skills.

The establishment of specialised Youth Centres, is a further enhancement to labour centres, where youth can have a platform to access free of charge, tools to assist them to find job opportunities. Youth Centres, have kiosks which, offer the unemployed, access to the thousands of job opportunities, registered by the Department's Employment Service Practitioners (ESP's). There are career counsellors that can offer lifeskills advice, career interest advice and even carry out psychometric assessments, if needed by employers. Labour centres, are  powerful platforms to help pathway work seekers to employment.

The President on Youth Day further launched The National Pathway Management Network, called SA Youth, which is part of the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention (PYEI). The PYEI aims to facilitate greater access to opportunities for young people, which cannot easily access opportunities that might be available. The Youth Centre adds to this initiative, by facilitating greater access, all opportunities registered by employers will also be loaded on SA YOUTH. It is hoped that through this youth will have broader access to opportunities.


Physical youth centres like the, one here today broadens access to those that don't not have technology or data and need assistance to access opportunities, that is why our labour centre staff are assist. The launch of this youth centre is the beginning of my Department bridging the digital divide and bringing services to where the people live so that there can be development of employability skills that are linked to demand in the economy, I am hoping that the labour centres and youth centres, can further add to the vision of bringing together many existing partners that are supporting young people into a coordinated system that enables young people to more successfully transition into and through the labour market.

Youth face many more immediate challenges in their search for work, including the costs of looking for work, having functional labour and youth centres where relevant, up to date information about job openings and job advice can be found, is a step in the right direction. Those that do not have access to newspapers and the internet, can use the labour centres to compile their CV's, search of jobs, and electronically submit the applications to employers that have registered job opportunities with the Department. These services are free of charge. For those that have lost their jobs, labour centres offer a one-stop service, where a person can apply for their unemployment benefit and at the same time register as a work seeker, and search hundreds of job opportunities.

Labour centres have a powerful role to play, and in support of the new mandate of the Department of Employment and labour. and Labour in areas surrounding Mdantsane.


I call upon all local employers, the youth and the municipality to actively utilise the services of the youth centre:-

  • to stimulate demand for employment, by increasing the number of work and learning opportunities availbale in the area.
  • To support the youth in the area to access opportunities and make it easier for them to remove the hardships that are associated with searching for employment.
  • To match supply and demand for skills and employment in the area.
  • To enable youth to get access to the opportunities that are available through various economic stimulus programs, that are currently on offer.

In conclusion, we know that unemployment amongst youth is high, and added to this is the Covid pandemic that is wreaking havoc with the economy and its ability to create jobs. We know that Covid has disrupted the education patterns of our youth and the unemployed face even greater difficulty in searching for work. We must act to keep young people from falling further into poverty because they cannot access the labour market. We must work together to solve this problem, I am making all Labour centres and youth centres that we see here today available for the fight against poverty and unemployment.