A National Consultative Conference to discuss the draft National Youth Policy got underway in Johannesburg.
The two day NYP2020 conference is being attended by young people from around the country and nationally organised youth structures. lts expected to afford young people the opportunity to voice their opinions on the South Africa they want to live in and the country they want for their children, organisers said.
Led by the Deputy Minister in the Presidency Buti Manamela, the consultative process on the NYP 2020 started late last year when young people made inputs and expressed their needs, interests and aspirations into the kind of policy they would like to see for young people of South Africa going forward.
During the extensive and vigorous consultation process- the youth were provided abundant opportunities through meetings, panel discussions, social media platforms and various other means to make submissions into the national youth policy.
Deputy Minister Manamela engaged with the youth from NGOs, political parties, faith based organisations, young people at train stations, churches, shebeens, institutions of learning and everywhere where young could be found.
More than 100 written submissions have been received and considered.
The policy drafting process was equally exciting, taking into consideration the National Development Plan 2030, the Industrial policy Action Plan, the New Growth Path and the African Youth Charter.
The NYP 2020 covers areas such as access to education, skills, competence development, employment and sustainable livelihoods, youth leadership and participation, health and welfare, peace and security, environment protection and cultural and moral values.
It identifies poverty, inequality and unemployment as the main challenges that face our youth. It further declares that for young people to resolve these three major challenges they must get educated, skilled, and fully support their entrepreneurial ideas.
The policy proposes that there should be measures to enhance youth employment to include skills development and training to prepare youth for jobs and enhance career mobility as well as work exposure and linking job seekers to employers.
Other interventions include the support youth owned companies and cooperatives with finance, access to markets and business skills as well as improved public employment schemes.
Drawing heavily from the National Development Plan (NDP), the draft youth policy also calls for the creation of an enabling environment for SMMEs and entrepreneurs to thrive.
This includes inculcating the spirit of entrepreneurship in schools, lowering the cost of doing business in the economy and the reducing barriers to entry in various value chains as well as aligning all legislation and the codes and charters that flow from the BBBEE Act of 2003 to advance socio-economic transformation.
The policy says there should be interventions that could benefit young people living in rural areas and have access to productive communal land .
These include the linking of young farmers to a programme for farmer-to-farmer skills transfer, agricultural extension and training by the state in partnership with industry.
The policy also envisages the optimisation of the youth machinery for effective delivery and responsiveness.
It envisages that government -nationally, provincially and at the local level- must spearhead youth development across all departments.
On education, skills and second chances the policy says special attention needs to be given to opportunities that provide unskilled and uneducated youth with second chance opportunities through community colleges which are designed to cater for youth who neither completed their schooling nor attended school and as a result do not qualify to study at TVET colleges and universities.
This is because according to statistics mentioned in the draft policy, of the estimated one million young people who exit the schooling system annually, 65% exit without achieving a Grade 12 certificate.
Less than 4,3% of persons aged 18 to 29 were enrolled at a higher education institution in the country.
Large numbers of youth, who possess no professional or technical skills, and who exited the education system prematurely, are effectively unemployable while about 60% of unemployed youth aged below 35 years have never worked.
Without a targeted intervention, the policy says these young people were likely to remain in the fringes of society.
The policy proposes that that there should be also linkages between colleges, the Expanded Public Works Programme and the Community Works Programme in order to reduces the need to provide second chance programmes.
Furthermore, the draft policy calls for the fostering of leadership across society, active citizenry, as well as fostering the values outlined in the Constitution. The outcomes of the conference will then be infused into the policy which will then be taken to Cabinet before the policy is signed by the Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe.-SAnews.gov.za