Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant on Thursday charged the jobs summit - bringing together government, business, labour and community formations - to identify solutions for jobs retention, and to identify job creation challenges and opportunities that each social partner can contribute towards.
"This summit has raised huge expectations among our people, and we dare not fail them. It is expected of us to come up with practical solutions and initiatives that are capable of being implemented immediately," Oliphant addressed the high-level summit convened by President Cyril Ramaphosa in Midrand.
"Our task as South Africans is to seize this moment of hope and renewal, and to work together, to meet the goal of raising employment, in line with the National Development Plan, the country’s 2030 vision. I am optimistic that all of us, especially the youth, will use this opportunity to share their ideas as to how they think we can better address the unemployment challenge."
Oliphant said the two-day summit was a platform to address the plethora of challenges facing South Africa at the moment.
"In the first State of the Nation Address, His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa, made the commitment to convene a jobs summit to address the issue of unemployment in our country. Today is the moment of truth as others would call it," she said.
"It is important to note, that there is greater optimism and confidence in our country’s economy and its trajectory these days. However, unemployment must be tackled decisively and radically, in order for us to see a positive change. The convening of this Jobs Summit, is but one of the measures to address this matter and the plight of our young people."
On the other hand, the opposition National Freedom Party has rejected the summit convened by Ramaphosa under the auspices of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC).
Ramaphosa has convened the summit as South Africa grapples with stubbornly high unemployment, currently at 27.2 percent of the labour force.
As the summit kicked off on Thursday afternoon, a group calling themselves unemployed South Africans gathered outside the venue, arguing that their interests are not represented in the conference.