Honourable Premier, Dr Zweli Mkhize,
Honourable Minister of Labour, Ms Mildred Oliphant and all Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
MPs and MPLS,
Fellow South Africans,
I am happy to join you here today in this thriving city of Richards Bay.
We have come together to discuss in practical terms, what we can do together to promote access to jobs given the challenging situation of unemployment in our country.
In the spirit of promoting labour absorbing growth in KZN and all provinces, we decided to convene this Job Fair. The purpose is simple.
We want to highlight the need to find urgent practical solutions to the jobs crisis through matching job seekers with employers.
Statistics indicate that about 42 per cent of young people under the age of 30 are unemployed compared with less than 17 per cent of adults over 30. Only one in 8 working age adults under 25 years of age have a job compared with 40 per cent in most emerging economies.
Unemployed young people tend to be less skilled and inexperienced. Almost 86 per cent do not have formal further or tertiary education, while two-thirds have never worked.
Solutions to the jobs crisis will not come from government alone.
This calls for all of us – Government, Business Labour and the society at large to join forces as is happening at this jobs fair.
We are pleased therefore, that there are captains of industry from State-Owned Companies, private companies, leaders of labour and other social movements who are here today because they share this dream of a better life for our people.
The jobs fair will enable us to obtain commitments from different stakeholders to contribute to job-creation and economic growth.
It is one of the practical solutions whereby employers can walk out here having found the skill they may have been looking for or vice versa.
We are aware that we cannot solve all unemployment problems in one day in this region. However, we trust that employers will continue to search for and afford workseekers the opportunities to access employment.
This is just a beginning to kick-start the process.
We are today also demonstrating the practical role that government plays in promoting access to jobs.
Government, through the Department of Labour, plays an intermediary role in the labour market through matching the unemployed with job and learning opportunities.
All unemployed and underemployed work-seekers are assisted. Special employment programmes are provided to designated groups.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We host this jobs fair mindful of the fact that in South Africa, our unemployment problem is not only a consequence of only slow economic growth.
Ours is also influenced by many other factors such as the skills mismatch, preferential procurement of labour by some employers, inequality, low work ethics in some instances and many other social factors prevalent in our South African labour market.
This often results in South African employers continuously recruiting from outside the country while we have thousands of unemployed people, including graduates. It is unfortunately not only scarce or exceptional skills that are being recruited from outside the country.
It is also unskilled labour which ordinarily has to be recruited inside our country. This is a matter we need to look into and discuss with the private sector.
But the biggest problem is youth unemployment.
The challenge of millions of out of school youth that cannot be absorbed in the labour market requires a multi-pronged strategy and partnership to analyze and come up with appropriate solutions.
The strategies we are putting in place to support youth employment includes improving the overall competitiveness of the economy through boosting small and medium businesses so that they can absorb the youth.
We are also exp expanding temporary public employment programmes.
The expanded Public Works programme is one such important intervention by government to support the youth.
Apprenticeships and learnerships are also necessary to enable the youth to obtain experience and be able to market their skills.
We have committed ourselves to increase the number of learnerships to 20 000 per annum in government to assist the youth to gain on the job experience as they fail to obtain jobs in most cases as they are told they have no experience.
Through NEDLAC, the Government signed a National Skills Accord with all the social partners in which business and state owned enterprises have made concrete, numerical commitments to significantly increase numbers of apprenticeships and to take on learners and interns for practical workplace experience.
This augurs well for youth development.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We also want to emphasise the importance of skills development in promoting job creation.
The first president of a free and democratic South Africa, President Nelson Mandela, in his statement from the dock, declared that; “There are two ways to break out of poverty. The first is by formal education, and the second is by the worker acquiring a greater skill at his work and thus higher wages’’.
In this regard, we encourage work-seekers to use available opportunities to gather the necessary skills, enhance their employability and avail themselves when employment opportunities open up.
Government is doing all it can to expand training opportunities for workers and also for the youth.
We have gone to the extent of establishing two brand new universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape. This will ensure that no corner of our country suffers from lack of access to higher education. As said earlier, the two universities form part of our social infrastructure development plan.
It gives me great pleasure to report on our progress towards establishing new universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape.
The two new Universities are the first new higher learning institutions to be established in South Africa since the dawn of our democracy in 1994.
They are therefore, each in their own right, symbols of our democracy, of inclusiveness, of growth and opportunity.
We are determined that these new universities should take their place amongst the network of higher education institutions serving and expanding our national needs.
They will provide qualifications in a range of fields for our young people wishing to develop high level skills for the economy.
They must create strong academic hubs, drawing on the individuality of each province to develop a unique academic focus and strong main campuses that enable multi campus expansion over time.
They must enable maximum access within the country and contribute to the economic and cultural development of their respective provinces.
I am pleased to announce that the seat and main campus for the University in Mpumalanga will be at the Lowveld Agricultural College, a site overlooking the City of Nelspruit and close to the new Provincial Parliament.
In the Northern Cape it is our intention to establish the seat and main campus in the inner city of Kimberley, injecting new life and purpose into this historic mining city.
Collectively we must ensure that these institutions become an enduring source of pride, both nationally and provincially. They must be able to attract the best academics in South Africa, the continent and the world.
The hallmark of these new universities must be academic excellence underpinned by quality leadership.
Their addition will complement and ease the pressure on existing institutions of higher education due to the flood of students each year.
Ladies and gentlemen
As part of finding long-term solutions and promote labour absorbing economic growth, you would be aware that we launched the New Growth Path framework in 2010. We identified six main growth areas for the economy.
These are infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the green economy and tourism.
This year, we have decided to focus more than ever on infrastructure. We want to develop basic social infrastructure such as water, dams, electricity and others to promote access to basic services.
Social infrastructure also includes the refurbishment of hospitals, building of schools and the two new universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga province.
The infrastructure programme will also help us coordinate the development of economic infrastructure better. These include roads, ports, railways and the improvement of airports.
To improve coordination and the implementation of the programmes, we established the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission.
Membership of the commission comprises select Ministers, Premiers and metro mayors. In this way we cover all spheres of government.
The PICC is an innovative structure that for the first time, coordinates infrastructure development nationwide.
Such focused coordination enables us to promote economic growth throughout the country, as we have a broader view of developments nationwide.
We also keep track of the positive developments and attributes to build on in each region.
KwaZulu-Natal in particular, is an important hub of industrial development in sub-Saharan Africa and the country.
The province is the second largest economy in the country after Gauteng, and contributes around 16.5% towards the GDP of the South Africa.
We are also encouraged by the growth of Richards Bay, which is a fast growing industrial centre. The Port of Richards Bay is estimated to contribute one billion rand to the national revenue.
We must build on these key selling points of the province to attract domestic and international investment and improve the capacity of the provincial economy to create more jobs.
Ladies and gentlemen we thank you for participating in this jobs fair, especially the business community.
If we are able to match even 10 young people with employers and they obtain jobs at this jobs fair, we will have made a difference in the livelihood 10 families and the exercise would be worthwhile. Every contribution counts as we continue to promote job creation nationwide.
It is my honour and privilege to declare the jobs summit and jobs fair officially open!
I thank you.
Province Or State