Youth calls for access to jobs and other opportunities

A health worker monitors to ensures that people wash their hands at the Mpondwe Health Screening Facility in the Uganda border town with the Democratic Republic of Congo, on June 13, 2019. AFP / ISAAC KASAMANI
A health worker monitors to ensures that people wash their hands at the Mpondwe Health Screening Facility in the Uganda border town with the Democratic Republic of Congo, on June 13, 2019. AFP / ISAAC KASAMANI

Access to job opportunities and the plight of young women are the main issues that must be addressed by the government in recognition of the work that was done by youth in 1976.

That was a common thread among youth leaders who spoke to Sowetan, reflecting on the challenges faced by the youth and how they can be addressed.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the keynote address at the National Youth Day event to be held at the Peter Mokaba Cricket Club in Polokwane, Limpopo.

The month of June has been declared Youth Month and it is a period set aside to pay tribute to the youth of 1976 who fought against a discriminating apartheid regime.

Ramaphosa is expected to first reflect on what the government has done to help the youth over the past 25 years.

But he is also expected to outline plans that his new administration will implement to reduce the high youth unemployment rate which is the biggest problem facing young people.

Tshepo Sitole, coordinator at Agape Youth Movement, said the government had not done enough for youth to access information and opportunities.

"Whether it is access to education, access to resources or access to opportunity. Young people need to get jobs but they do not have access to internet.

"This means as a young person I may not have access to a job because I don't have access to internet. The concept of access has become sort of a currency among young people," said Sitole.

"People are talking about the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Young people, particularly in Soweto where I come from, cannot even access WiFi, something that is supposed to be accessible to all young people."

Sisanda Mbolekwa, president of the student representative council at the University of the Witwatersrand, echoed Sitole's views on youth struggling to gain access to opportunities.

"Access to institutions of higher learning is still a problem. Financial circumstances of our youth remain a barrier for them accessing institutions of higher learning.

"There is also no support for students while they are at universities. A lot of students are homeless because of the inadequate level of support at institutions of higher learning," Mbolekwa said.

"The plight of young women is yet to be addressed by our government. Our young women are beaten up and so many are raped and killed," she said.

Mbolekwa said the government should compel all companies in the country to take in graduates to help deal with the high levels of unemployment.

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