South Africa faces the critical challenge of youth unemployment, affecting millions of young individuals and posing a threat to the nation’s future. Harambee, committed to addressing this crisis, recently convened the Solutions Exchange Conference in collaboration with The Presidency and Business Unity South Africa. The conference brought together over 300 leaders to share insights and strategize ways to advance youth livelihoods, highlighting the urgent need for unified efforts.

With 8.8 million young South Africans excluded from economic participation, Harambee sees youth unemployment not as an insurmountable challenge but as an opportunity to tap into the untapped potential of the country’s youth. The conference emphasized the necessity of aligning stakeholders to prevent new labor market entrants from becoming disengaged youth without employment, education, or training. The complex employment pathways in the economy, marked by structural barriers and unequal access to education, demand a coordinated approach to unlock opportunities for the youth.

Over the past 12 years, Harambee, alongside cross-sector partners, has enabled one million young South Africans to access earning opportunities. The emergence of a powerful partnership ecosystem, recognizing the promise held by the younger population, strives towards a society where every young person has a clear path to advancement. This narrative centers on collaboration, innovation, and resilience, acknowledging that the scale of the challenge requires collective action.

Initiatives like the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention and the National Pathway Management Network (NPMN) showcase the impact of public-private partnerships. The NPMN, coordinated by Harambee, provides free access to learning and earning opportunities, supported by the innovative SA Youth platform. Geomapping capabilities match job seekers to local opportunities, saving on transportation costs. Currently, over 3.7 million job seekers have been actively supported through the network.

With economic growth expected to expand by a mere 0.3% in 2023, the formal economy struggles to generate sufficient jobs for the excluded youth. The call for large-scale public-private partnerships has never been more urgent to unlock the potential of young people and accelerate their economic inclusion. The Solutions Exchange Conference has rekindled the commitment to unlocking the next million earning opportunities, emphasizing collaboration and transformative impact on the lives of young South Africans.

Empowering the youth and reshaping the prospects of a future generation requires collective commitment, innovative solutions, and the active involvement of all stakeholders. Through sustained collaboration, South Africa can navigate the challenges of youth unemployment, offering a brighter future for its young population.

Source:  Daily Maverick:

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