The Minister of Economic Opportunities, Ms Beverley Schäfer and the Minister of Social Development, Mr Albert Fritz, visited George to launch the first ever, ‘’Youth on the Move: Gateway to Opportunities” programme on 4 and 5 March 2019.
This two-day pilot youth initiative was hosted by the Western Cape Government in collaboration with the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), George Municipality and the Garden Route Skills Mecca steering committee. The “Youth on the Move” programme is a step towards achieving the commitment made by Minister Schäfer to create 250 000 new job opportunities Local Government level, and aimed at connecting youth who are looking for opportunities with employers and organisations.
On Monday, 4 March 2019, Minister Schäfer and her delegation met with the executive mayors of the GRDM and George Municipality, representatives of the local business chambers, potential employers, educational institutions and local stakeholder groups working with the youth. During this jam-packed gathering, the GRDM Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen, explained the district’s vision of becoming a skills mecca, not only for those residing in the Garden Route or Western Cape Province, but for the entire South Africa. He enlightened the audience about last year’s Investment Conference and the two Skill Summits hosted by GRDM as well as the resolutions taken and spearheaded by the GRDM. Mayor Booysen continued by saying: “In order for people to invest in our region, we need to have the relevant skills to drive investment and because of this, the GRDM took a conscious decision to up-skill our people in the district. Today I am here to declare that we are ready for business, we are committed and with the limited funds that we have, we want to drastically lower unemployment, up-skill the youth, and do whatever is necessary for this district to be one of the best”.
On Tuesday, 5 March 2019, Minister Schäfer met with over 200 unemployed young people from the region. During the event, youth were placed into various working groups where they answered questions about barriers faced when trying to access opportunities. The youth also shared their views on how technology is used nowadays to advance skills and opportunities, and how they go about finding work and opportunities.
During her keynote address, Minister Schäfer said: “Too many young people in South Africa do not have access to opportunities. Our job as government is to open the gateway between employers and young people looking for jobs. You need to walk through that gateway and get that first job. Once you’ve got that first job, you’ve got the experience to put on your CV, which allows you to show that you’ve got skills,” she said.
In conclusion Minister Schäfer said: “Over the past two days we’ve heard from employers that they’re not finding the best people with the right skills and we’ve heard from young people that transport, safety and the cost of printing out a CV, are some of the barriers that they’re experiencing. By growing digital skills in our province, and encouraging youth to use technology like online job searches, apps and to make use of services like youth cafés and the ICAN Learn programmes, we can start to make headway in addressing the concerns expressed by both employers and the youth,” she said.
Subject to the outcomes of the initiative, the “Youth on the Move” programme will be adjusted and progressively rolled out across the Western Cape Province with an event scheduled every three months as district and local municipalities come on board. Through this project, the Western Cape Government together with the district- and local municipalities in the Garden Route strive to create a pathway for unemployed youth to access opportunities, to match the demand of employers for suitable qualified persons in the district and in that way sustain industries and support economic growth within the district and Western Cape.