South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has launched the R71-million Itukise Unemployed Graduates Programme, which will help unemployed graduates get work experience by negotiating placements at companies for them.


Through Itukise, the DTI will engage with companies that have received different government incentives to provide work experience to unemployed graduates for 12 months, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said at the launch of the programme in Cape Town on Tuesday.


The department will also seek to place interns at companies interested in the programme.


“Today most companies are looking for a high-quality skilled force, and that makes it more difficult for those without skills to find jobs in the labour market,” Davies said. “Graduates represent a small but important share of the human resource capacity towards a competitive and value-adding economy. Itukise will contribute to reducing the loss of investment in education.”


He said the programme also presented an opportunity “to develop and market the profile of the manufacturing sector to young people, in the provision of decent work and in increasing opportunities for learning both on and off the job”.


The National Skills Fund, within the Department of Higher Education and Training, has approved the R71-million funding over a two-year period, to be overseen by the DTI, which will disburse monthly stipends for placed graduates.


The programme will be implemented in three sets of intakes over two years, with the first intake in April, the second in August and the last one in April 2015.


Minister Davies said these programmes were necessitated by the structural changes to the country’s economy, which had seen the demand for unskilled labour waning.


National Skills Fund CEO Mvuyisi Macikama said every workplace in South Africa “should be turned into a training space to create a skilled labour force”.


He urged the youth to work hard and absorb as much as they could in order to master their craft.