The Chairperson

Port-Folio Committee members


Youth development stakeholders

Ladies and Gentlemen


Executive Summary


As SAGDA we join the ten of thousandth of South Africans and peoples of the globe in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of June 16.  It was thirty years ago when the youth of South Africa revolted against the use of Afrikaans as medium of instruction and other forms of oppression.


SAGDA is elated to be given the platform to share its views and opinion on this critical issue in the lives of young people; youth unemployment. We are gravely concerned that, a culture of action for impact is not deep-rooted among all stakeholders that deal with youth development; thus youth unemployment will forever engulf our nation. We are concerned because we all seem to be still battling with concepts and plans rather than evaluating of actions. We are gravely concerned that as government endeavors to create an enabling environment for youth to be developed, are young people listening, comprehending the challenges at hand and do young people have the intrinsic desire to respond to these challenges


The legislative framework for youth development has been laid and strategies have been conceived, all that is left is to deliver on expectations. Therefore, the thrust of this presentation will focus on youth unemployment within the context of graduate development and employment. It will be based on SAGDA’s observations and analysis for having dealt with graduate unemployment and its impact on society over the years.




The South African Graduate Development Association- a non-governmental youth (graduate) initiative registered in 1997 as a section 21 Company whose overall objective is to strengthen civil society through the empowerment of unemployed graduates for social and economic transformation of our country.   We salute the efforts of government for integrating the youth development strategy in the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA) and more profoundly for putting our primary target, the graduate on the pedestal of hope. It is through such efforts that signalled the highest political passion and will for graduate development and placement, when the Deputy President launched the ‘The Unemployed Graduate Placement Initiative’ on the 6 December 2006 and Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition on the 24 March 2006.


“The number of unemployed graduates has grown significantly in the past five years. JIPSA must seek ways of absorbing unemployed graduates into the economy whilst addressing the mismatch in relation to the type of training offered to these students as compared to skills needed by the job market”.


Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Deputy President, SA

Launch of JIPSA

3 March 2006


The above statement by the Deputy President has brought renewed vigour and focus in our quest to empower graduates-enzymes for change, to fulfil their role in the socio-economic transformation of the country. Our presentation will attempt to provide a ‘graduate’ outlook in responding to the objectives of the hearings on youth unemployment, namely;



·         To identify the nature, scope and challenges faced by young people in accessing employment;

·         To identify gaps in legislation;

·         To consider the creation of jobs within the context of economic policy, with specific reference to ASGISA; and

·         To gauge the effectiveness of labour market institutions in dealing with the issue of youth unemployment.


We will strive to provide an analysis of the nature, scope and challenges facing young people based on qualitative information rather than otherwise. We will in realizing the alignment and/or integration of youth development strategies within the ASGI-SA focus on graduate development and integration. We will highlight the need for a ‘new’ moral order characterized by a well-developed value system redefining the graduate of the future, which will manifest in behavioral traits that are noble to the country. This is a graduate with the consciousness to develop, share and contribute his /her talents to nation-building.




Research continues to indicate that while the economy is growing at a faster rate, this growth is not directly proportional to the creation of jobs. Amongst some of the causal factors put forth is the technological advancement of country coupled with the demand for highly skilled labour. Young people with tertiary education enjoy more preference that their other counter-parts due to their high levels of literacy and intellectual capability. However, the forever-changing labour environment has rendered other tertiary qualifications becoming redundant. It will become evident when we deal with the section on job creation, which skills will enjoy demand in the community.



The definition of graduate unemployment remains contentious based on fact that, in real terms graduates enjoy more job opportunities however, the relevance of the job in relation to the study fields is nowhere.  It is for this reason SAGDA has categorised such graduates as under-employed-a relativity of unemployment.


SAGDA observations and analysis thereof in working with graduates have yielded the following assumptions;


Environmental Factors


q      The economic reality of a job-loss growing economy.

q      Negative perceptions against historically disadvantaged Higher Education Institutions.

q      Qualifications irrelevant to socio economic needs of the country.

q      ill preparedness of students on skills to survive and tackle the world after study

q      Lack of Role Models.

q      Lack of adequate learnerships and internships.

q      Opportunities centralised in metropolitan areas.

q     Graduates do not have marketable skills

q     Unemployed and Unemployable graduates.

q     Graduates with a job and profession paradigm – unable to identify opportunity to use their expertise outside this paradigm.

q     Graduates have an attitude of Job Entitlement

q     Graduates have a low level of motivation.

q     Graduates study debt problem

q     Lack of work experience and exposure

q     Poor preparation for interviews

q     Attitude of Individualism / Lack of social responsibility.




The South African legislative framework as alluded above provides a unique predisposition to youth development. Youth development-related aspects seem to have been considered crafting of the legislation. The following legislated policies have rendered themselves friendly to the youth, namely;



-          National Youth Commission Act

-          National Youth Service Act

-          Demutualisation Levy Act

-          Skills Development Act

-          Labour Related Acts Such As Employment Equity and Skills Development Acts

-          BBEE Act


These acts to have a meaningful impact in youth development, they should translate into practices and norms. Furthermore, to gauge their effectiveness, continuous monitoring and enforcement rather incentivisation should be the order of the day. Monitoring will assist in dealing with the necessary amendments to keep them relevant and abreast with the changing environment. 




The key factor in integrating youth development in ASGISA lies in examining and taking stock of youth-orientated legislation and agencies that are tasked/mandated in implementing it. This should culminate into a national youth portal of youth development programmes, communicated and accessible to government, private sector and civil society.


The youth should understand that ASGISA aims amongst others to look at the following;

-          Infra-structural  development

-          Sector investment strategies

-          SMME development

-          Skills development

-          Poverty alleviation


The skills-base of South African youth needs to be researched in line with human resource development needs of the country within the context of ASGISA. This will assist in influencing the relevance of higher education and skills development initiatives. Young people should be prepared while in the schooling system which career paths that will provide opportunities for personal and economic growth of the country.


While every responsible youth in this country is engaged in one programme or the other, a centric approach with a ‘rippling effect’ is critical in identifying and prioritising programmes that are primary and have impact on secondary ones.    SAGDA’s graduate outlook informs us that, no amount of skills and knowledge, resources and/or opportunities will benefit the South African youth if they do not graduate with a set of defined peoples values. Therefore, a master programme, which is relevant within the context of the National Youth Service and the goals of the Moral Regeneration Movement, should be implemented with the following outputs;

-          defining South African values

-          what characterises the South African youth

-          how do we re-channel the energies of the youth into positive energy for nation-building

-          Importance of technology and innovation in nation-building, do we have youth scientists and where are they?

-          Creating a centre of intellect, who is the youth intelligentsia and where are they?

-          Inculcating an Action For Impact culture among the youth, while we envision we need to act on our ideals.

-          inculcating the culture of social responsibility and service


This programme should be a self-driven programme by reminding the youth of energy that had engulfed the youth of yesteryear, every youth knew the there was a concerted effort to hold Umrabulo meetings for political education.

Maybe now, the Umrabulo meetings can be based on socio-economic education. Where are the political singers, who can compose new and relevant slogans to ignite these energies for a new cause?


SAGDA views the utilisation of unemployed graduates as change agents in the delivery of intended programmes crucial to fulfilling ASGI-SA goals. They are in a better position to act as project leaders of various initiatives based on the following reasons;

-          Graduates are spread throughout the various sectors of the economy

-          They have high levels of literacy and intellect that can assist in assimilating intended roles

-          Unemployed graduates’ self-esteem can be restored and young people can be encouraged to further their studies

-          Unemployed graduates are also nationally spread across all provinces


In summary, SAGDA is requesting all stakeholders to look at these issues:

-          What are the principles and goals that underpins AGSI-SA

-          Taking stock of youth development programmes and consolidating in one national portal

-          Researching the skills base of South African youth in line with HRD needs of the country

-          Higher education and labour market intervention strategies

-          Integrating education with socio-economic imperatives

-          Prioritization of youth development programmes

-          Determining a master programme; youth education

-          Graduates acting as change agents


Exposure of the youth to the high growing economic sectors will prepare them to take meaningful career decisions that are aligned to industry needs.




Social Development as a job Creation strategy


SAGDA through previous work done in the communities has identified that indeed there could be job opportunities through social development. SAGDA moves from a premise that there is work in the country though there might not be payment (gainful employment). The following are some of the examples where graduates can be trained and deployed for impact:

-          addressing illiteracy in the country

-          poor matric results where graduates could provide extra classes (weekend, afternoons, etc)

-          service backlogs in the public service – graduates can advance further the concept of community development workers, e.g.

o        law graduates can advance access to legal services through legal centers

o        child, disability, foster grants support services to our communities

o        parenting skills to parents in relation to child rearing in today’s challenging world

o        commerce graduates could assist in SMME development and support services

o        IT graduates can teach children and the community computer skills and support services


Entrepreneurship development as a job creation strategy

It has to be noted that the curriculum as its stands is not empowering all the learners to be enterprising beings, .the Youth Enterprise Strategy led by Umsobomvu Youth Fund need to be fast racked, especially at ensuring that procurement opportunities for young people are secured especially through government departments.



The NAFCOC’s strategy of creating 100 000 SMMEs can come useful in utilising graduates as;  

v      Graduates as business (general) advisors or managers

v      Graduates as technical (industrial) advisors or managers

v      Graduates as entrepreneurs through a New Venture Creation Programme and Co-operatives


Higher Education Intervention


DOE through the council on Higher Education has to advance the implementation of the New Academic Policy, especially relating to critical cross cutting fields which are basically life skills which all students should posses after completion of their studies. Higher Education Institutions has to partner with SAGDA in terms of graduate development as they are the central custodians of the preparation of graduates.




While SAGDA acknowledges the moral intentions and efforts of all stakeholders in youth development, the lack of an integrated approach to youth development will render our efforts inadequate. However, we trust that The Presidency having taken the reigns to drive youth development, we will see all efforts being synchronized for better service delivery in this arena.


A continuous communication and outreach strategy will assist in bringing information nearer to the youth. The public broadcaster and all other communication stakeholders should be the custodian of this strategy.  








In conclusion, SAGDA in celebrating the struggles of our fallen heroes and in ensuring sure that their sacrifices were not in vain, SAGDA will be hosting a Graduate Summit.


The strategic intent of the summit is to reposition and reaffirm SAGDA as a Brand for graduate development and placement, while enhancing collective and sustainable participation of all role-players. This will fulfil our vision; ‘An enabling environment where graduates are integrated into the socio-economic mainstream’ It's aimed that a number of objectives will be achieved through the Summit. The summit will include academic and corporate sector presentations on areas such as milestones, challenges and strategies; best practices in graduate development and placement; integrating education and industry; the responsibility of higher education in graduate development; a business perspective on graduate employability; and social investment in graduate development. A delivery plan will be dealt with through commissions that should yield action for impact resolutions.


This summit will culminate in a Gala Dinner on Friday evening June 30th to honour the Deputy President for having flagged the graduate development issue to the highest office of the country through ASGISA.








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E-mail: [email protected]

Ronnie Midaka