Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Buti Manamela
The Director General of the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation, Ms Mpumi Mpofu
Senior Government Officials
Our Special Guests — The Youth amongst us
Ladies and gentlemen
Today marks the Holy occasion of Eid ul Adha that celebrates the Hajj. To all Muslims in South Africa, Africa and the world over – Eid –ul –Addha Mubarak…kulu aam, wa antum, bighayr. May you be filled with happiness and may every step of your journey through life be blessed.
It is my pleasure to welcome all of you to this gathering. The occasion to meet with the NDP Brand Ambassadors presents us with the glorious opportunity to interact with the future leaders of our country. We have in this room some of the brightest stars in the galaxy of talented, innovative and highly dedicated young South Africans. I am looking forward to announcing some of these young people as the NDP Ambassadors later this month.
Let me extend a special word of welcome to the business executives who took time to be with us this morning. We are grateful that you have answered our call to work with these young people. Any contribution to youth development is an investment towards a brighter future for our nation. I can assure you that this is a project worthy of your support and commitment. I would encourage you to invest resources available at your disposal in support of the NDP Youth Ambassador programme.
Our Department has initiated the National Youth Development Ambassador Programme to mobilise young South Africans to be active role-players in economic growth. As government, our mission is to transform the economic landscape and make it more inclusive and address the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The NDP Ambassador Programme is premised on promoting youth entrepreneurship to boost economic growth, increase employment, and reduce poverty and inequality.
We are guided by the prescripts of the National Development Plan (NDP), our lodestar in our collective journey towards the year 2030. The NDP rests on the following six pillars: mobilisation of all South Africans, active engagement of citizens in their own development, expansion of the economy and making growth inclusive, building of key capabilities - human, physical and institutional; building a capable and developmental state and fostering strong leadership throughout society.
Our occasion today falls squarely within the ambit of the NDP. The NDP is futuristic in its approach, as it outlines our envisaged development trajectory in our journey towards 2030. It singles out our youthful population as the major catalysts in boosting economic growth. The NDP puts youth empowerment at the epicentre of development strategies. The youth are therefore at the core of South Africa’s development agenda.
The young people that you see in this room today have established themselves in a variety of fields. The first group was selected from the winners and the nominees of the South African Youth Awards (SAYA), held at the St. George Hotel in March this year. It is our view that the full value of an award cannot be realised unless the winner contributes towards the development of their communities. We want to see young people directly involved in imparting skills and nurturing other young talents.
We have also embarked on a massive public nomination process, where we put out a call for young people to submit their names and motivate why they think they deserve to be the NDP Youth ambassadors. We have had overwhelming response from young people across the country. We are grateful to all those who responded to our call and, even though we cannot select all of them, we trust that they will continue making meaningful contribution to their communities.
We hold the concept of ambassadorship for our overarching plan and vision highly. Our Youth Ambassadors will be expected to champion the values and principles of the NDP. The selection criteria for candidates is a stringent one, and involves a rigorous process to ensure that we select the best candidates for specific fields. Those who will be the ultimate ambassadors would have passed the litmus test as trailblazers in their respective fields.
We intend to work with vibrant young people who are proud to serve the nation and are between the ages of 18 – 35. The selected contingent of young people must be committed individuals who are prepared to drive change in our society. We want to select the most outstanding young innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs and career trailblazers. A special consideration will be reserved for those young people who have a practical idea that has a potential to contribute in reducing poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Our criteria is informed by the awareness that the selected NDP youth ambassadors will be expected to engage with various stakeholders in government and the private sector. This will require some basic understanding of the business world and ability to express the principles of the NDP in a comprehensive manner. It is therefore envisaged that the selected NDP youth ambassadors endeavour to equip themselves with some knowledge of developments in the business world, lookout for opportunities in the economy and use the knowledge to assist in reducing unemployment.
It is highly inspirational that our prospective NDP youth ambassadors are already playing a role in the upliftment of their communities and have been recognized for their services. We are confident that these young people will create sustainable developmental programmes and business enterprises that will radically transform our economy and society.
The selected NDP youth ambassadors will be expected to serve as role models to young people in the country and should be respectable as members of society. They must see themselves as agents of change and be willing to dedicate their time in the service of the South African people. We can already see in the profiles of our prospective ambassadors traces of well-groomed and admirable values such as nobility, humbleness, servant leaderships, sacrifice and integrity.
THE PLIGHT OF YOUTH IN THE COUNTRY
As government, we take cognisance of the fact that young people bear the brunt of unemployment in South Africa. Our massive unemployment rate rose to a staggering 27.7% in the first quarter of 2017. Young people are at the bottom of the economic hierarchy and mostly bear the brunt of unemployment.
Our economic indicators show that the youth remains the hardest hit by the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. These are some of the challenges that we must collectively address with the urgency that they deserve. Youth unemployment breeds social ills such as drug abuse, rampant crime and violence.
It is important to note that the scourge of unemployment is not a government problem alone. It is a societal problem. Youth development is therefore a matter of national importance. To ignore the plight of the youth will be a major risk in the socio-economic condition of our country. Let us join hands and wage a fierce fight against youth unemployment.
ESTABLISHING A SOCIAL COMPACT
One of the ways in which we can effectively empower the youth is by establishing a social compact. Government, business and civil society organisations must work together to combat youth unemployment. They should provide skills development opportunities through training, internships and mentorship for young graduates and budding entrepreneurs. This is how we can establish a solid foundation for rapid and inclusive economic growth in our country.
The NDP brand ambassador programme is an endeavour aimed at providing a platform for young people to share ideas that will take South Africa forward. This is a very important venture to ensure that the youth are self-sufficient. The youth of today are the ones who will witness the fruition of our Vision 2030. They must be the key drivers of NDP programmes today. When we invest in youth, we invest in the future of our country.
Progressive nations all across the globe enhance their chances of prosperity through investment in new ideas, new innovations and new opportunities. Young people must be given opportunities to explore their talents and unleash their creative potential. We need innovative young entrepreneurs who will play a meaningful role in the renewal of our economy. Entrepreneurship is a fundamental endeavour for economic emancipation especially in our rapidly changing industrial landscape.
Future projections indicate that an estimated 65% of children entering primary school today will most likely work in roles that do not yet exist. It is through innovation that young people discover new avenues and establish new ways of conducting lucrative and legitimate business ventures.
I strongly believe that young people should be at the forefront of fundamental change in society. The future of this country is in their hands. It is our local innovators and entrepreneurs who will ultimately create the millions of jobs that we need to realise an inclusive economy. We must invest in skills development so that we can produce young men and women who will become exceptional innovators and make a meaningful contribution to economic growth.
It is in this context that we are meeting today. We want to introduce the NDP Brand Ambassador Programme to the business sector, foster strong relationships on youth entrepreneurship and encourage active citizenry among the various stakeholders. Let us explore ways in which government, youth and business can collaborate in creating jobs that are required to grow an inclusive economy as envisaged in the NDP.
Business is a vital partner in our efforts to develop a more dynamic, inclusive and flourishing economy. The strength of public-private partnerships is that they are mutually beneficial. By working with young innovative minds, businesses grow their customer base and increase their profit margins while at the same time addressing government imperatives like employment creation and economic development.
The nexus between government, business and civil society, including youth organisations, is a potent combination that can propel our nation forward. We must work together to empower the youth. We have young people here with great potential. We know that given wings they will fly. Let us help them to develop those wings. It is our future – make it work!