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STATEMENT BY ALDERMAN JAMES VOS, MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH

As South Africa pauses this Thursday to mark Youth Day, we must acknowledge the grave situation of our young people and joblessness.

It is arguably one of the biggest crises facing our country: for the first quarter of 2022, the unemployment rate was 63,9% for those aged 15-24, and 42,1% for those aged 25-34 years, according to Statistics SA.

My position as Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth means that I go out in communities across the city and meet some of those 20- and 30-somethings in need of work. It also means that I get to meet those who, until very recently, counted themselves among that cohort. These are young people who have worked through one of several City-overseen initiatives.

Through the Economic Growth Directorate’s platforms and partnerships, more than 14 100 Capetonians have been trained and placed in jobs while a further 8 581 have gone through training to become workforce ready in the past two years.

Specifically, the City directs funding to partners in high-growth industries for the particular purpose of job creation.

The doors of opportunity have opened for thousands of young Capetonians in green-tech, marine manufacturing, IT, and other industries.

The Cape Skills and Employment Accelerator Project, funded primarily by the City and the National Skills Fund and private sector partners, is another example of a programme that has helped just under 2 000 young people develop skills in two of the metro’s biggest industries: clothing and textile, and call centres.

Through City programmes such as these, Cape Town has helped South Africa rise to the very top of international rankings in the call centre industry. In total, the Cape Town sector created almost 5 500 international jobs in 2021, bringing the overall jobs servicing global clients to over 42 000. Together with domestic-facing clients, more than 70 000 people now work in the sector in Cape Town.

While it is important to create these programmes, of equal necessity are the platforms that help people to source opportunities at little financial cost to themselves.

We have responded to this need with Jobs Connect, the City’s flagship Workforce Development Programme, which helps work-seekers source knowledge, training and employment opportunities, and links businesses with the appropriate individuals to help them expand their operations. The online platform, which includes a skills assessment, is paperless and zero-rated for MTN and Vodacom users.

When new opportunities are posted, candidates with matching criteria are prompted by SMS to apply and are notified about interviews via WhatsApp or phone call.

Since the start of this programme in 2018, 4 865 have been placed in various jobs.

The fact that Cape Town has long been and remains the metro with the lowest unemployment rate is proof that these initiatives are working. But 30% unemployment is still far too high. We all know far too well the socio-economic ripple effects of this situation.

With the R713 million Economic Growth budget that has been approved by Council, my team and I will be able to expand on these programmes. The budget plots a roadmap for bolstering Cape Town’s small businesses and industries, and increasing Capetonians’ access to opportunities.

Make no mistake that we are working relentlessly to create an inclusive economy of hope and confidence.

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