ohannesburg – Catholic bishops have called on the government to review the youth wage subsidy, saying it was not an effective tool for job creation.
Officially known as the Employment Tax Incentive Act, the subsidy came into effect in 2014 as the government hoped it would promote employment for young people and create jobs in special economic zones.
In terms of the act, employers receive a tax incentive to employ young workers for a maximum of two years under certain conditions.
However, the subsidy has received widespread condemnation for failing to stimulate job creation.
A cleric made the call during the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) Justice and Peace Commission, which coincided with Workers’ Day.
Speaking on the day, SACBC chairman Bishop Abel Gabuza criticised the initiative.
“The statistics recently re-leased by Stats SA on the state of youth unemployment and poverty in the country indicate the youth wage subsidy scheme has not been effective in eradicating youth unemployment. Despite the subsidy scheme, youth unemployment has risen from 3.14 million in 2009 to its current level of 3.38 million.”
He urged the government to discontinue the subsidy “sooner rather than later”.
“By the end of December this year, the programme (youth wage subsidy) is supposed to have created 423 000 new jobs, of which 178 000 would be net new jobs. Even if it manages to achieve its intended objectives, it would still fall far short of the more than 3.2 million job opportunities for youth that the country needs,” Gabuza said, adding the subsidy did not create sustainable jobs.
“We have received many complaints from young people who are fired at the end of the subsidy period without the skills necessary to find a new job,” he noted.
“We are also concerned about the systemic marginalisation of the rural youth by the programme (youth wage subsidy).
“In a world where dignity of work is increasingly subordinated to the power of profit, we have created a throwaway society where a deep appreciation of the dignity of work is lost.”