NYDA Sifiso Mtsweni ‘Optimistic’ On The Jobs Summit

NYDA Board Chairperson, Sifiso Mtsweni. PICTURE: Refilwe Lekgothoane

JOHANNESBURG: NYDA executive board chairperson, Sifiso Mtsweni says he’s optimistic about the Jobs Summit which will take place later this week. 

In a statement issued by the agency on Wednesday, “The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) is optimistic about the highly-anticipated Jobs Summit taking place at Gallagher Convention on 4 and 5 October 2018.”

“This gathering of NEDLAC constituencies- government, labour, business, and community- with a focus on collaborative and high-impact interventions to drive job creation, job retention and economic growth come at a time when unemployment rate has reached 27.2 per cent with young people constituting over 50%,” NYDA said in a statement. 

Announcing the summit during his 2018 State of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted that jobs, especially for the youth, will be at the centre of the 2018 national agenda. 

According to Mtsweni, “[t]he summit must take into account the hardest hit and affected by triple challenges of poverty, unemployment, and inequality, i.e. youth, women and children”. 

The NYDA board led by Mtsweni will be presenting their proposals and will hope that government will take them into consideration. 

Amongst the many proposals that the NYDA will lobby for during the summit includes:

“Breaking down barriers of entry into the job market. This includes enabling broadband access through lowering data costs, as massive data costs are a hindrance for young job seekers.”

Mtsweni has been at the forefront of calling for the scrapping of experience for entry-level jobs, especially amongst young people.

“The summit must urge the government to walk the talk by scrapping experience as a requirement for all entry-level vacancies in public and private sector. At the center should be that all advert criteria must be ring-fenced for young people as to ensure that the vacancy rate in government is reduced,’ he said. 

At the summit, they will be hoping that the government will subsidies jobseekers with money for transport. 

“Transportation costs must also be deliberated upon with the view of providing transport subsidies for young people in quest of employment. To acknowledge that skills are not limited to matric, diplomas, and degrees; emphasis should be on recognising informal skills as important for job creation,” Mtsweni said. 

On EPWP and SMMEs

Government’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) has come under heavy criticism over the past few years. It was launched in 2004 as one of the solutions to eradicate youth unemployment. While the Department of Public Works maintains that it is achieving its mandate, critics question the credibility of the skills which they say are not marketable. However, Mtsweni hopes that the EPWP will be converted to permanent employment after the summit. 

Hopefully the summit will “enable greater mentorship in the workspace to prevent dropouts and increase retention. It must also “acknowledging of experience gained through internships programmes and convert the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) to permanent employment,” he said. 

The agency will also hope that the summit restores the textile industry and ensure that township factories are revived. Support youth cooperatives that must manufacture and produce sanitary towels.

Mtsweni firmly believes that youth cooperatives must be granted opportunities to manufacture and produce sanitary towels. Speaking during his outreach programme in the Eastern Cape last month, Mtsweni vowed to fight for the free provision of sanitary towels for young girls.

Meanwhile, the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) has come out strongly against the summit. The union believes that the upcoming jobs summit will not do anything to reduce unemployment. 

The trade union federation said it turned down an invitation from government to attend the summit this week in Johannesburg and published its letter to National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) executive director Madoda Vilakazi declining the invitation.

However, Mtsweni holds a different view to that of Saftu, he said his agency is confident of the outcome of the summit.

“We are also confident that this will not be another talk-shop as other stakeholders have already suggested but will produce tangible results to the benefit of all young people,” Mtsweni concluded.