(As appeared on BDLive on 11 June 2015)
THE Gauteng Youth Expo, organised by the provincial government, opened at Nasrec this week as part of the government’s drive to tackle the high rate of unemployment among young people and to mark Youth Month.
More than half of 15-to 24-year-olds in SA are jobless, according to statistics from Good Governance Africa (GGA).
The expo features career exhibitions by government departments, state-owned and large private companies and small to medium enterprises.
President Jacob Zuma is expected to make an appearance at the expo on Youth Day on Tuesday next week.
The busiest of the stalls was Lulaway, a government partner in the recruitment and selection of unemployed youth, as well as Tshepo 500 000, which aims to “make ready a specific number of the unemployed youth, women and people with disabilities for government projects”.
SA has the worst youth unemployment rate on the continent, with 52.6% of its youth unemployed, according to GGA. Unemployment increased to 26.4% in the first three months of 2015 from 24.3% in the previous quarter. It is the highest rate since 2005, according to Statistics SA.
Large numbers of students were bussed in from campuses as far afield as Soshanguve and Centurion to attend the expo. But the slots scheduled to engage the youth in dialogue — with speakers such as Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga; Vice-Chancellor of Wits University Prof Adam Habib; MEC Barbara Creecy and Deputy Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa — were cancelled, without any reason given.
Many of the visitors to the expo said they were there to find employment, bursaries or study opportunities. Several of those interviewed believed the expo showed the government was addressing the unemployment issue.
“I have collected so much useful information. I now know where to go and how to apply for bursaries from government,” said Nhlanhla Malinga.
Democratic Alliance MPL Ashor Sarupen, however, said the government needed to improve the education system to reduce the high levels of unemployment rather than holding “talkshops”.
(This article appeared on http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/2015/06/11/gauteng-youth-expo-opens-at-nasrec-as-state-looks-to-tackle-unemployment)