Keynote Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Youth Day, Mthatha, Eastern Cape,16 JUNE 2022

Programme Director,
Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa,
Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Ms Maite Nkoana Mashabane,
Premier of the Eastern Cape, Mr Oscar Mabuyane,
Executive Chairperson of the NYDA, Ms Asanda Luwaca,
CEO of the Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, Ms Kasthuri Soni,
CEO of the Youth Employment Service, Mr Ravi Naidoo,
Leaders of all youth formations,
Young people of South Africa,

We are here today to honour the youth of 1976 – and the youth of all decades – whose bravery, determination and vision were vital to the achievement of our democracy.

From their struggles, we have learnt that there is nothing that young people cannot achieve when they are united and committed.

It is due to the struggles of young people over many years that access to primary education is universal for every single young person. 

Our school feeding schemes have ensured that no child is hungry at school.

Today, our country produces four times the number of African graduates than we did in 1994. 

These graduates have gone on to become leading doctors, technologists, innovators and entrepreneurs. 

Our social security system offers a level of basic social protection to every marginalised and vulnerable citizen, especially children.

These achievements should not overshadow the deep seated challenges faced by young people.

Now more than ever, we need young people to rally together to confront and overcome the massive challenges facing our country.

The apartheid legacy of poverty, unemployment and inequality has, in recent times, been compounded by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the July 2021 unrest and the devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal, North West and here in the Eastern Cape. 

The fact that millions of young people are not in employment, education or training is the greatest challenge facing our country today.

As we rebuild from the pandemic, we therefore remain focused on growing our economy and creating jobs.

We remain focused on far-reaching economic reforms and creating conditions for the expansion of businesses throughout the country.

We are intensifying our investment drive and removing the red tape that holds back business growth and greater employment creation.

Alongside these measures, we are harnessing the capacity of the state to respond to the immediate needs of young people.

It is for this reason that we announced the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention, which is a comprehensive response to the youth unemployment challenge.

We have also launched the Presidential Employment Stimulus, which supports public and social employment, and which has created close on 880,000 job opportunities since it was established. 

A flagship initiative of the employment stimulus is the school assistants programme, which has placed 287,000 young people in schools across the country.

These young people are accessing meaningful employment while supporting teachers and contributing to positive learning outcomes in our schools.

The latest programme to be launched through the employment stimulus is the Social Employment Fund.

It has begun to recruit 50,000 participants in community safety, food and nutrition, digital inclusion, and sports, arts and recreation.

We have just launched a new dashboard for the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention on the State of the Nation website. 

Members of the public are now able to track detailed progress with implementation and receive up-to-date information about the intervention.  

Our National Pathway Management Network, which links young people to opportunities for earning, learning and support, has now signed up over 2.9 million users.

Young people can join the network through an online platform,, which is data free on all mobile networks.

Since SA Youth was launched, it has placed more than 600,000 young people in earning opportunities and provided support to many more, including interview preparation, job search and entrepreneurship training. 

As part of government’s commitment to remove the barriers that young people confront when trying to enter the public service, we are reducing the cost and effort of applying for positions.

For example, applicants for public service positions are no longer required to submit certified copies of their educational qualifications and other relevant documents.

This simple change will significantly reduce the cost of applying, improve turnaround times and reduce the administrative burden on departments.

At the beginning of next month, government will be launching the Future of Work Ambassadors programme. 

This programme will focus on improving and modernising the recruitment and retention of youth in the public service.

We are pursuing innovative new ways of linking learning with earning.

For example, the National Skills Fund is pioneering the pay-for-performance skills development model that will create 8,000 job opportunities for young people in digital skills. 

Today, we are proud to announce the official launch of the revitalised National Youth Service. 

Youth service can contribute to civic responsibility, a common identity, development and nation building. 

This is a passionate generation that sees the need in our country and wants to serve those around them. 

There is a great deal of work for them to do in public schools, in tackling social problems such as alcohol and substance abuse and gender based violence, and in building social solidarity in their communities. 

We look to the National Youth Service to inculcate in young people the habits of work, the value of community service and a sense of duty to our democracy.

Young people who want to participate in the National Youth Service should join and create their profile.

The Youth Employment Service – known as YES – is another important initiative that has reached key milestones over the last year. 

Through its partnerships with the private sector, YES has created nearly 82,000 quality work opportunities for young South Africans.

This has injected over R4.6 billion into the economy through salaries alone. 

Corporate partners use the Youth Employment Service to build their own workforces by creating work experiences for youth in industries of the future. 

These include industries such digital, drones, green economy, urban farming, mining, global business services, creative industries and many more.

The young people of South Africa are imbued with a great entrepreneurial spirit and energy. 

Our task is to support them to unleash their potential.

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, for example, is establishing a fund that will support an enabling ecosystem for young people to engage in forms of enterprise and self-employment.

We will continue to provide young entrepreneurs with the capital and networks to grow their start-up businesses. 

In the past financial year, 7,500 young people have received financial enterprise support and over 30,000 young people have received other enterprise support from the National Youth Development Agency and the Department of Small Business Development.

At this moment in the life of our nation, we need visionary young people who are united and focused on improving our communities and building our economy. 

We need young people who have discovered their generational mission and who are determined never to betray it. 

We need patriotic young people who will actively serve their country and defend the gains of our hard-won democracy.

We need young people who will stand up to, and put an end to, gender based violence and femicide.

Our young people need to take the lead in building a more humane society – a society that treats people with disabilities with dignity.

We are deeply concerned about the number of young people falling into depression and taking their own lives. 

Now more than ever, we need youth to show ubuntu and kindness towards their peers.

Bullying at school or anywhere else in our society must stop. 

The harassment of young people belonging to the LGBTQI+ community has no place in our country. 

Young people must shun crime and fight against corruption. 

I also want to address a special generation of young people popularly known as Ma2000. 

This generation is the future of our country. 

These are the young people who take responsibility for their well-being and the well-being of those around them.

These are the young people who understand the damage caused by alcohol and drug abuse, who refuse to be drawn into crime and violence, and who avoid irresponsible and reckless sexual behaviour.

Young people must be inspired by the 1976 generation to look beyond their immediate circumstances and pursue their hopes and dreams. 

They must create livelihoods by pursuing their business ideas, focusing on their studies and always looking for opportunities for development.

As a society, we must appreciate the contribution of young people, invest in their development and support their efforts to define a new future for our country.

I wish you all a happy and fulfilling Youth Day. 

I thank you.


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