Minister of Economic Opportunities, Beverley Schäfer has announced a target of creating 250 000 new opportunities for the youth in the Western Cape over the next five years.

Minister Schäfer said: “Youth unemployment in this country is too high. In the Western Cape, 33.9% of our population is between the ages of 15 and 34. And we have a youth unemployment rate of 30.35%.  And while this is well below the national average and we’ve made inroads in this province, recording a 5.1% decline in youth unemployment between 2012 and 2018, we need to be building linkages and pathways between government, the skills sector, and the private sector to ensure that were are creating opportunities for young people, in sectors where they are needed.”

“We are building an economy for the future, and as such, our focus needs to be on preparing our young people to take their place in that economy, through skills development, and creating work opportunities,” she said.

Minister Schäfer said she will be exploring partnerships with businesses and organisations to maximise opportunities for young people.

“By creating opportunities for young people, we’ll be tackling social problems like poverty and crime, and developing a young, skilled workforce that is attractive to overseas investors.”

The province has already developed opportunities for young people through internships, apprenticeships and skills development programmes.

“Through our apprenticeship game changer, we placed 9850 learners into workplace based learning including apprenticeships in our five priority sectors by September. So far, 7976 learners have completed their workplace based learning. In the oil and gas sector 497 new artisans have entered the sector.

“Young people require our full attention- without them we don’t have a future workforce or a future economy. Our job as government is to stimulate the environment to ensure that these young people are employable. So I would like to set a target to decrease youth unemployment in this province over the next five years. We’ll be looking to create 250 000 opportunities over the next five years.”

Minister Schäfer said that the Western Cape government is positioning itself to become a global tech hub and in order to do that, we will require a wide range of skills.

The Department of Economic Development and Tourism commissioned a study to evaluate the skills in various areas of the tech industry. Some of the necessary skills coming out of that study include big data, programming, video editing, animation, call centre skills, software developers, digital marketing skills, and drone operators.

Minister Schafer said that in order to develop these opportunities, the focus would be on growing the economy, and securing investment.

The Atlantis SEZ presents such opportunities for increasing investment through attractive incentives which also incentivize skills training and youth.

Already, the project to develop the skills of high school learners in Atlantis is yielding impressive results, with the learners enrolled in the project achieving a matric pass of 94% and a post-school placement rate of 74%.

“As we build our future economy, we need to be paying attention to the skills that economy will need. We’re focusing on becoming a green-tech and digital hub. As the province moves towards increased uptake in solar PV, we should be training solar PV installers, and creating opportunities in alternative energy and green technology,” Schäfer said.

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