S. African labor minister meets Chinese counterpart to cement cooperation

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Updated Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:04:45 GMT

South African Labor Minister Mildred Oliphant met with Yin Weimin, head of China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, on Monday in Cape Town to discuss issues ranging from human resource development to employment services.

The meeting is a sequel to their engagement in China last year.According to a statement issued by the South African government after the meeting, the two parties agreed in principle to see the two countries concluding and signing a cooperation agreement in the strategies and programs that would enhance the provision of employment services, strengthening of labor inspection services and other fields.

In addressing Yin Weimin, Oliphant recalled her visit to China in August 2013. "We learned a lot about your labor market and visited institutions of interest to us. Key amongst them was the Public Employment Center in Haidian District (Beijing) where I was quite impressed with the advanced digital display-wall reflecting by the second updates on vacancies. We are still grappling with resources to enable us to reach that level as a country," Oliphant said. In reply, Yin said, "The purpose of our visit is to promote our exchanges in the fields of human resources and employment services between South Africa and China." He also made reference to China being confronted with similar challenges and have taken similar measures to address unemployment in the country.

Oliphant said South Africa and China face the same challenge from youth unemployment which remains a huge challenge globally and domestically. "We have observed that more and more young people find it difficult to access work opportunities. Government is however mitigating through active labor market programs such as Learnerships, Expanded Public Works Program and other targeted initiatives like the Youth Accord and Youth Incentive," Oliphant said.

South Africa's youth unemployment stands at 36.1 percent, with jobless youth making up 75 percent of the country's unemployed, according to official statistics released on Monday.

Oliphant said that during the sixth BRICS Summit held in Fortaleza, Brazil in July, the leaders agreed that Labor and Employment, Social Security and Social Inclusion Public Policies Forum be explored as a new area of focus. She said she is aware of informal discussions of officials in Geneva with a view to formalize agreements in this Forum. Oliphant said she was keen that this initiative be supported.