Social dialogue vital to address youth unemployment crisis

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Failing to address the emergency of youth unemployment is a powder keg waiting to
explode. We all need to address this crisis urgently, if we wish to have a stable
country going forward.


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All businesses called on to employ 5% unemployed youth as
interns

Researcher and political analyst Professor Raymond Suttner has described South
Africa’s youth unemployment crisis as an "emergency-type situation' that can only
be sustainably addressed through a frank dialogue between government, business,
labour and civil society that tackles the prevailing climate of mistrust, which is
undermining potentially job-creating investment.
Sharing a platform with Business Unity South Africa’s acting CEO Cas Coovadia
at
a briefing hosted by training company Imsimbi on Thursday, Suttner warned that a
youth-unemployment rate of higher than 60% was not only a "tragedy' for the
individuals affected, but carried serious social risks, as well as perils for future
business stability.
Failing to address the emergency of youth unemployment is a powder keg
waiting
to explode. The youth have been tremendously patient, but their patience will not
continue for ever, he stated. We all need to address this crisis urgently, if we wish
to have a stable country going forward.
Imsimbi director David Sadie highlighted a number of incentives already
available
to encourage enterprises to take on young unemployed South Africans, including the
Employment Tax Incentive Scheme, which was already supporting some 209 000
young workers in about 23 500 firms. Sadie called on all companies and businesses
to
take on 5% of their staff complement as interns.

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hspace="3">
Professor Raymond Suttner

He identified the latest Stats SA employment figures which show that
15,094,000
South Africans are employed and 8,332,000 South Africans are unemployed. The
Youth Employment Accord signed in April 2013 by Business, Labour and Government
emphasised the critical importance of prioritising youth employment. Government
committed itself to taking on 5% of the staff complement as interns in all
government departments and parastatals.
Sadie identified that if all businesses also took on 5% of their staff complement
as interns we could create 750,000 new jobs in the next year. He stated, it is
imperative that all people of goodwill join hands in creating these 750 000 new jobs.

The employment tax incentive scheme, ensures that companies will get R1,000
off their paye bill per month for each intern that is taken on. The minimum amount
to
be paid to each intern is R2,000 pm. In essence the tax incentive scheme ensures
that government subsidises half the interns salary.

Sadie highlighted that the SARS employment tax incentive scheme commenced in
January 2014 and continues until December 2016. Unemployed youth between the
ages of 18 -29 may benefit from this scheme. Unemployed youth on learnerships
may
also benefit from this scheme. The government has made it tremendously easy for
companies to take on interns. Businesses should take this opportunity to contribute
to making a difference to our country.
He pointed out, an internship gives unemployed youth vital workplace
experience
in their quest to gain long term employment and a foot in the door of formal
employment. The new BBBEE score card also makes it imperative for companies to
take on unemployed youth in internships and learnerships.
Suttner stated that while government was primarily responsible for finding
remedies which would be multifaceted in nature, business needed to recognise that
it
was not powerless to act and that it needed to use its power to influence the
climate in a way that rebuilt confidence.
Suttner felt business could be particularly influential by insisting on the need
for
clean government, the absence of which was negatively affecting the "entire
functioning of the system under which we all have to pursue our business and other
work activities'.

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hspace="3">
David Sadie

"Business must be able to operate within an environment where regulations and
processes are observed. It needs that level of certainty in order to function
optimally,' he stressed.
Coovadia supported the idea of a deeper social dialogue, but said it was vital
that the conversation be framed by "national interest' and not the narrow self-
interests of the interlocutors. In other words, it should deal with the "hard issues'
with an acceptance that compromises and sacrifices would have to be made by all
social partners.
Coovadia admitted that business could do more in the areas of skills
development
and internships. But he indicated that it would prefer to support such efforts through
offering capacity rather than funding, owing to concerns about the waste and
misuse of funds.

He expressed frustration, though, that the capacity previously made available
by
business to the public sector was often either dismissed, or used as a substitute for
government fulfilling its societal obligations. "Business cannot become government
by
proxy, because of a lack of efficiency within the public sector,' he argued.
Sadie also unveiled Imsimbi’s two month Unemployed Youth Job-Readiness
Programme, which offered young job seekers free participation in Seta accredited
short courses training to prepare them for the job market.

About 150 young South Africans had already received training at a facility in
the
Johannesburg central business district and Imsimbi was keen to partner with
corporates to extend the scheme to other areas in Gauteng.
For further information on the employment tax incentive scheme, learnership
tax
rebates and FET College work placements, see the Seminars power point
presentation on the

target="_new">Imsimbi website


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