speed up the process of all outstanding claims and compensation which has deprived victims and beneficiaries of what is due to them. Hon Chair, it is unacceptable that claims could be delayed for almost 10 years. The Minister has already outlined the new turnaround times in this regard.
We will continue to engage on the high impact job preservations with all our stakeholders and monitor our conditional obligations. We urge employers to pull their weight in partnership with the department to meet the country's employment targets. We will roll out the programme of vocational training, and venture creation. To this end 132 872 beneficiaries have been appointed and the contracts have since being signed.
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (Dr B E
Nzimande): Hon Chair, we are in engagement with the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology on the possible establishment of a joint task team on the Skill Education Training
Authority's, Seta's, programmes. This will effectively assist with the co- ordination of tools for employment creation.
Hon Chairperson, we are keenly aware of the impact of the sluggish economy on the labour market with the labour market with more companies filling for section 189 and further restructuring of companies due to technological advancement. These anticipated retrenchments should offer an opportunity for us as a country to ensure we have skills that match the needs of the future jobs and current jobs.
Our laying of scheme programme will respond to these market needs coupled with our collaborative efforts with the Setas.
Hon members, we will respond to the state of the nation directive and streamline the departmental regulatory processes inline with the ease of doing business as we prepare all our programmes to meet the demands and challenges presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
I must indicate hon Chairperson, that our President we noted this past Friday that our President became the first world leader to present through holographic image. This shows his commitment to
harmonising the disruptions of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in how we do business as a country. As the President has said and I quote, "Working together there is nothing we cannot be, nothing we cannot do and nothing we cannot achieve."
We shall also review all our current programmes to meet the objectives of the reconfigured department and this we shall achieve within the cost- containment measures for proper realignment of the sixth administration.
Hon Chairperson, the President during His state of the nation address placed a greater emphasis on the Department of Employment and Labour to grow the country's requisite and adequate skills to boost the economy. I am sure you are aware that the ruling party the ANC also declared unemployment as a national crisis.
Hon member, the reality is that of the 38,3 million people of the working age which is between 15 and 64, only 16,3 million are employed and 6,2 million are unemployed with 3 million who are already discouraged those are no more seeking employment and 12,8 million noneconomically active people.
During our stakeholder engagement, we met a young man called Joe Phalwane, the owner of arrow buddies which is a flight simulator company which is focusing on young people especially children who appealed to our department to ensure that there is enabling environment for Small, Medium and Micro- sized Enterprises, SMMEs to absorb the surplus labour. I think we agree with him and we need to follow the trend. On Monday this week hon Chairperson, I had a pleasure of interacting with young people on an entrepreneurial leanership and this is the outcomes of our project development partnership fund which assist young unemployed persons who wish to start their own businesses. It is encouraging to hear how this young people who joined the internship for employment shift the paradigm to creators of employment by starting their own businesses.
Hon Chairperson, South Africa has a grant opportunity to exploit the demographic dividend and we are as a country with an average of 27 we stand a better chance of ensuring that we change the structural unemployment. Hon Chairperson, today in the month of July characterised and much celebrated across the world as the Mandela month, although we have a daunting task ahead to ensure that we fulfilled our mandate as a department, we take courage in the words of Nelson Mandela and I quote, "It always seem impossible until it is done."
The President called upon us to transform the economy and create decent employment with emphasis to recruit young people into entry level jobs that would not require experience as a prerequisite. We are encouraged by the implementation of this directive by the Department of Public Service and Administration as from 1 April 2019. This will go a long way for us as a country to tackle the shackles of inequality, unemployment and poverty especially amongst young people.
We are committed hon Chairperson, together with the Minister of the department and our staff complement of the department led by the director- general, DG, in ensuring that we actualise the skills revolution and ensure that there are special efforts by the private sector and other partners to work with the training authorities to develop the skills needed in the workplace. We will also target our skills development programmes to the unemployed youth, low-skilled people and those in precarious forms of employment including the self-employed.
To unlock more opportunities in the economy, we will also look at the current UIF funding model through the Public Investment Corporation, PIC, in order for us to ensure that more of the funding
filters down to SMMEs and create sustainable employment opportunities instead of private equity partners.
We will also consider the impact of the National Minimum Wage and further strengthen our labour market policy to stabilise the economy in line with the National Development Plan. To this end, the department will receive the progress report from the commission in September 2019.
Hon Chair, currently the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, CCMA, has received 1 073 National Minimum Wage referrals for the first six months of 2019. So far 182 cases have been settled which constitute 17% of the cases. We will strive to ensure that these cases are processed within the 30 day period. We will remove the red tapes as alluded to by the Minister and try to master the ease of doing business and execute our mandate in this sixth administration in an effort to improve economic efficiency and productivity through Productivity SA as our entity and fast- track the creation of decent employment through our public employment services. We will strive to promote labour standards and fundamental rights at the workplace through the labour policy and industrial relations and ensure sound labour relations through our labour market policy and CCMA.
Hon Chairperson, we will endeavour to eliminate inequality and discrimination in the workplace through our labour market policy, inspection and enforcement services. We will give value to social dialogue in the formulation of sound and responsive policies to attain labour market flexibility for competitiveness of enterprises balanced with the promotion of decent employment through inspection and enforcement services. Enhance in occupational health, safety awareness and compliance in the workplace through inspection and enforcement services.
Dear South Africa, Mia Angelo once said and I quote, "Desire to reach for the stars is ambitious, the desire to reach hearts is wise."
In conclusion hon Chairperson, I have to take this moment to thank the Minister for his guidance and out rightness of character, the DG Ntate Lamathi for the magnetic leadership abilities, the staff of the department within the Ministry, senior management of the department and my family in particular my daughter who is with me for the support and understanding. [Interjections.]