The R5-billion set aside for the youth wage subsidy should be "accessible" to fund "other interventions" to alleviate youth unemployment, African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said yesterday.
Implementation of the contentious policy, budgeted for by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in this year’s budget after being first announced by President Jacob Zuma in 2010, hit a snag when it was rejected at the ANC’s policy conference last month.
Mr Mantashe’s latest comments appeared to indicate that implementation of the youth wage subsidy was no longer guaranteed in its present form and the subsidy could be headed for the drawing board. It had already come under attack from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), which argued that it would benefit employers and see older workers displaced.
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While Mr Mantashe did not say the subsidy - under discussion before the National Economic Development and Labour Council - was off the table, he said it should not be viewed in "isolation".
"We said the question of cost sharing, this will entail the wage subsidy, can only work if it is a part of a more multipronged approach to youth employment," Mr Mantashe said at a media briefing yesterday.
He was speaking ahead of a meeting of the party’s top brass starting today, with job creation featuring on the agenda. "The question of internships, both in the public and the private sector, all those elements are issues that we should be looking into because there is not one solution that will resolve the question of youth unemployment," he said.
ANC members rejected the concept of the subsidy at the policy conference but endorsed a job seeker’s grant - the details of which have yet to be sketched out by the party.
Mr Mantashe said the budget directed at the youth wage subsidy should be used to fund other initiatives such as internships, training, for young people wanting to attend further education and training colleges and for learnerships.
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