South Africa's National Development Plan has set the ambitious target of creating 11-million jobs by 2030, which will require teamwork to get the economy growing at a rate of more than 5% a year, says President Jacob Zuma.
Delivering his State of the Nation Address to a joint sitting of Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday, Zuma said South Africa's gross domestic product (GDP) growth was expected to average 2.5% in 2013, down from 3.1% the previous year - and half the minimum 5% growth rate required to create 11-million jobs by 2030.
"In my last meeting with the business community, the sector indicated that for the economy to grow threefold, we must remove certain obstacles.
"We will engage business, labour and other social partners in pursuit of solutions. No single force acting individually can achieve the objectives we have set for ourselves."
Zuma said the National Development Plan (NDP), the country's vision for the next 20 years, contained proposals for tackling the problems of poverty, inequality and unemployment, while outlining interventions to put the economy on a better footing.
Noting that just over a third of the population was under the age of 15, Zuma said that South Africa, like many other countries, was faced with a crisis of youth unemployment.
"Last May I asked constituencies at Nedlac to discuss youth employment incentives. I am pleased that discussions have been concluded and that agreement has been reached on key principles. The parties will sign the accord later this month," Zuma said.
These incentives would add to what the government was already doing to empower young South Africans, Zuma said, noting that state-owned companies provided apprenticeships and learnerships and urging that these be increased.
Appeal to the private sector
Zuma also appealed to the private sector "to absorb 11 000 FET [Further Education and Training college] graduates who are awaiting placements" - equivalent to the number of young people that the government had enrolled in various training programmes under its National Rural Youth Services Corps.
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, which runs this Corps, was also planning to create nine Rural Youth Hubs per province, including in the 23 poorest districts in the country.
"We will also use the Expanded Public Works Programme and the Community Work programme to absorb young people," Zuma said, adding: "Working together we will find a solution to youth unemployment."
Regarding small business - recognised as key for job creation in the country - Zuma said a key project for the Presidency currently was to get government departments to pay small businesses within 30 days.
"Departments are required to submit monthly reports so that we can monitor progress in this regard," Zuma said, adding: "We have taken a decision that accounting officers who fail to execute this directive should face consequences."