JOHANNESBURG- With South Africa battling high levels of unemployment, newly – elected president Cyril Ramaphosa said that his government will be focusing on creating jobs this year.
Delivering his first State of the Nation Address in in parliament on Friday evening, Ramaphosa said that the government will convene a job summit during the course of the year in a bid to tackle high levels of the unemployment rate in South Africa.
He said that different sectors within the country will be part of the summit which will come up with “practical solutions and initiatives.”
“At the centre of our national agenda in 2018 is the creation of jobs, especially for the youth. We are going to embark on a number of measures to address the unemployment challenge. One of the initiatives will be to convene a Jobs Summit within the next few months to align the efforts of every sector and every stakeholder behind the imperative of job creation,” he said.
South Africa’s unemployment stands at 26.7%, with young people being the worst affected by joblessness.
Ramaphosa said that summit will look at what the country could do in growing the economy and the infrastructure.
“The summit will look at what we need to do to ensure our economy grows and becomes more productive, that companies invest on a far greater scale, that workers are better equipped, and that our economic infrastructure is expanded. We will make a major push this year to encourage significant new investment in our economy,” he said.
The president acknowledged that the economic growth was unable to absorb young people into the labour market.
“Even under conditions of weak growth, our economy has created jobs, but not at the pace required to absorb new entrants into the labour market. This means that as we pursue higher levels of economic growth and investment, we need to take additional measures to reduce poverty and meet the needs of the unemployed. Since the start of the current Parliament, our public employment programmes have created more than 3.2 million work opportunities,” he said.
Public finances have been constrained, limiting the ability of government to expand its investment in economic and social development.
Despite these challenging conditions, we have managed – working together – to achieve progress in improving the lives of our people.
He said that South Africa was still an unequal society, battling with high levels of poverty.