North West Premier Edna Molewa has urged the private sector to embark on leanership programmes to bridge the skills gap between youth and the labour market.
"It is also a challenge to fully accommodate the increasing number of unemployed youth who have graduated and must be placed on a firm career path for the future. I call on all partners especially the private sector, to embark on learnership programmes for our needy youth," said Ms Molewa.
The Premier was addressing delegates at the provincial Growth and Development Summit (GDS) set to evaluate existing economic programmes and align these to the provincial as well as national policy frameworks.
The two-day summit, which started yesterday, is held under the theme: "Building a People's Contract for Sustainable Growth and Development in the Province."
About 700 representatives from civil society, labour unions and business sector, among others, are attending the course.
Ms Molewa said the human capital formation should also be expanded and increased by ensuring access to skills development programmes.
"We should promote equal and fair access for all our people to economic opportunities and assets, especially women and youth in rural areas," she implored.
"We must also ensure sustainable development and poverty eradication through the appropriate management of natural resources and the environment," she added.
She added there was a need for emerging and established businesses to become productive while contributing to the province's economy.
"Our goal is that by 2014, our unemployment rate of around 48 percent should be halved and the provincial economy should be growing at a steady 6.6 percent per annum," said the Premier.
MEC for Finance and Economic Development Darkey Africa said the summit should find a comprehensive response to helping forge a people's contract for growth and development.
"We commit ourselves to making a difference, which shall continuously reverberate positively within our society, in rural and urban areas, places where the poor continue to expect the actual impact, positively, of our policies," said Mr Africa.
Among key issues to be discussed here is further development of key economic sectors in the province which include agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction and tourism.