As South Africa marks Youth Month this June, newly-appointed International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor says she will use her appointment to leverage international opportunities for the youth of South Africa.
“We should use the international opportunity far more than we are doing for young people to enjoy skills training.
“We should have thousands of young South Africans all over the world and I know there are countries that are interested in providing these opportunities but we have not always taken them up on it more robustly,” said the Minister in an interview with SAnews on Friday.
Announcing his new and leaner Cabinet on 29 May 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Pandor to head the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), where she is tasked with steering South Africa’s foreign policy.
Pandor, who brings with her a wealth of experience in public office, said she aims to marry her passion for education, experience in the higher education and training sector with her new role at the department.
In this regard, Pandor emphasised the need for African leaders and South Africa to work in cooperation with other countries to establish networks for training and skills development.
“We have too narrow an economic activity and I think as DIRCO, we have to put at the heart of our work economic opportunity and economic diplomacy.
“When we set performance targets we will be asking each of our missions what they are doing to contribute to more business formations, more job opportunities, more skills development for South Africa and in particular for young people,” she said.
The Minister’s hopes are also encapsulated in the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which is the blueprint and masterplan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future.
With Africa boasting a youthful population, with 200 million people aged between 15 and 24, Agenda 2063 places the youth at the heart of the action of building the continent.
This, Pandor adds, must be done by ensuring that policy doesn’t simply gather dust but becomes a living, breathing and tangible plan that opens up windows of opportunity for the youth.
“What we must do is convert framework to implementation. We must ensure that we don’t articulate vision and not have action associated with it. What we as leaders must achieve on the African continent is a set of concrete steps that address the interests the hopes and aspirations of young people on the continent,” said the Minister.
By improving, expanding education and addressing the paucity that exists in technical and vocational training, Pandor foresees a bright future for the youth of not only SA but the continent at large.
While she sees a future where the youth of SA are breaking ground across the globe, Pandor stressed the need to harness that opportunity and plough back into the country.
“There must be the condition that they come back and service our country and establish enterprises.
“We must diversify the understanding of what opportunity is among young people. It is not just finding yourself in a public service department but also creating new businesses, working in incubation hubs, and establishing innovative approaches. We need to connect with them on what they would like to do,” said the Minister.