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Youth agency helps SA’s youngsters succeed

Written by Amukelani Chauke

Youth matters

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) is opening doors of economic opportunity for small and medium enterprises owned by young people.

According to the NYDA’s chairperson Yershen Pillay, over the past five years the agency’s programmes has helped put a dent in the high level of youth unemployment in the country.

Pillay said the aim of the NYDA was to get young people involved in the economy through a “multi-pronged approach”.

This included introducing tailor made interventions for job preparedness and placement, scholarships for those who excel in school, the Youth Build programme for out-of-school youth, second chance opportunities for matriculants, intensifying the highly successful career guidance programme and business finance grants.

Helping build businesses

Through these initiatives, the youth agency has exceeded its targets and helped young businessman and women build their businesses, he said.

R25 million was set aside for the Grant Programme for the 2013/14 financial year in a bid to turn possibility into reality for young people.

Due to limited resources, the programme cannot guarantee that all young people who walk through the doors of the NYDA’s offices nationwide will receive its support.

With this in mind, the NYDA plans to work with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) to ensure that as many young people as possible access the R3 billion funding available to young entrepreneurs.

“We have an obligation as a developmental agency to invest in youth entrepreneurship,” Pillay pointed out.

Another flagship programme of the NYDA is the Youth Build programme.

The NYDA partners with the Department of Human Settlements on a number of programmes to give young people the opportunity to build and renovate Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses and community amenities.

Through the Youth Build programme, young people acquire practical skills and experience in brick laying, carpentry, plumbing and electrical while contributing to community upliftment.

The NYDA also plans to launch a loxion hub in the Northern Cape this month. It will serve as the business headquarters for a number of local small businesses. The NYDA, in partnership with the Prieska Municipality, secured the premises free of charge for youth entrepreneurs and also provided office equipment.

Pillay said despite these interventions, unemployment remained a concern.

Going forward South Africa’s public and private sectors, as well as young people, needed to work together to tackle unemployment, he said.

“If you involve all these stakeholders in youth development initiatives and encourage them to invest more, the NYDA then plays a coordinating function.

“Through a multi-pronged approach, we could be reaching that 3.2 million young people who are currently not in any institution of higher learning or unemployed,” he said.