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The 3rd of December is recognised as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and is the culmination of a month of national awareness in South Africa. As we observe this day, it is a stark reminder that much still needs to be done to create inclusivity for the approximately seven per cent of our population living with either physical or mental disabilities.


Even as South Africa grapples with one of the highest youth unemployment rates globally - with 8.9 million unemployed young people according to Statistics South Africa - traditional approaches to tackling the issue have been met with limited success.

 


Studies have found that there is a significant incidence of educational and skills mismatch in the country. Many are now questioning whether the strategies and programmes for employment development match the skills that are produced by higher education institutions.


South African youth are disproportionately represented amongst the country’s unemployed, and even graduates of tertiary education are not immune to this struggle to enter and make their way in the modern world of work. 


While there have been strides made since South Africa’s dawn of democracy in 1994, the legacy of Apartheid still impacts youth in the country, especially those from disadvantaged communities.


 The Department of Basic Education partnered with Microsoft to provide digital skills training to 25 000 unemployed youth in South Africa, as part of the Basic Education Employment Initiative (BEEI), which created more than 300,000 job opportunities across the country. This initiative forms part of the broader announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa in October 2020 of a R100 billion fund to create 800 000 public sector jobs in the next three years.

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