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Tackling the unemployment challenge

Written by BuaNews, Samona Murugan

The year of job creation

Government is tackling the unemployment challenge head-on. By declaring 2011 as a year of job creation, government aims to create more than five million jobs in the next 10 years. This was announced by President Jacob Zuma at a business summit on job creation held in March. To achieve this goal, President Zuma acknowledged that government would require more direct investment in the economy and greater involvement from the private sector.

Industry leaders of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), the banking and mining sectors and all the major parastatals were among the representatives who attended the summit.

They discussed the growing need to find solutions to the unemployment challenge facing the country. These include working closely with the private sector to meet job creation targets.

Government has made substantial progress in transforming the economy to benefit the majority since 1994, but there are still serious challenges regarding unemployment, poverty and inequality, President Zuma said.

Workable solutions

He confirmed that there has been a long period of economic growth in the country during the past 10 years, but admitted that job creation lagged behind. He emphasised the importance of co-operation between business leaders and government to find workable solutions.

Zuma said the State has been doing its part to ease poverty through various social security programmes for the poor. “But the creation of decent work is the most effective way of dealing with poverty,” he said.

Private sector

“This calls for hard work from all sides. As government, we have been working to strengthen the legislative and policy frameworks to make it easier to do business in our country and to support emerging business, as well as broad-based black economic empowerment,” he said.

Solutions discussed at the summit, included ways in which government and the private sector could use the signs of positive economic growth to create employment. According to businessman and former Eskom chair, Bobby Godsell, we need practical solutions. “Coming together like this will help get the sense of how people think and what should be done both from the business side and from government.” 

Dennis Dykes of Nedbank, said the role of the banking sector and its capacity to fund small business was important for any job creation strategy. He added that he hoped the summit would lead to banks playing a major role in growing business, especially small businesses.

Business council

BUSA decided to form a joint presidential business council, which would meet regularly to discuss issues of policy and how to advise government.  “We have already partnered in the fight against corruption and crime and together with other social partners, this summit must also have a legacy,” said BUSA president, Futhi Mtoba.