LABOUR: Business Holds Jobs Key
Recent Western Cape Business News
THE first step in the campaign to create new jobs should be to speak to organised business and employers and to ask them what kind of skills they require, says Michael Bagraim, President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
After that the tertiary education and training institutions should be assessed to determine their capacity to deliver the skills required and only then should the bursaries be made available and learners channelled into their future careers.
Bagraim said the recent chaos at the University of Johannesburg where tens of thousands of students had attempted to register for degree courses at the last minute was a clear indication that more planning was needed and he pointed out that there was a similar situation at the Cape University of Technology where there were 32 000 last-minute applications for 9 400 places.
“There is also a great deal of wastage in the system with high drop-out rates and many students choosing courses for which they were not suited or training for careers where prospects are limited or there is little demand.”
He said the whole process should start with business because without employers there could be no jobs.
“Business makes the jobs and knows what is happening in the economy, where developments are likely to take place and the kind of skills needed to grow existing industries or create new ones.
“The Government has been very good at talking to the unions and getting their views. That is fine, but the problem is that unions are experts on the existing situation rather than on future developments and the opportunities new technology will open up. In many ways unions are wedded to old technology and there are many instances where they have resisted modernisation to the great cost of industry, the competitive position of the country and to future job creation.”
Bagraim cited the example of information technology where few in the union movement would have predicted the explosion of the digital age and the new industries that it would create.
“To create jobs you have to speak to the people who take the decisions and make the investments. They are the risk takers and the people who know what is going to happen and where the opportunities will be found. Commerce and industry are the job-makers. The unions look after the interests of the workers, but without the job-makers there are no workers and no union members.”
He said that if the Government addressed the leaders of the real economy they might find that the requirement was for technicians and artisans rather than people with academic qualifications.
“We think that the starting point in the campaign to create millions of new jobs is business. We urge the Government to talk to business and find out what the real needs of the economy are. We need a proper study to find out where the skills shortages are, how extensive they are and where they are likely to be in the future and then to plan the education, training and bursaries.
He said it was important to understand that the world was changing rapidly as scientific discovery and new technology made new things possible and created new opportunities. The Government should be talking to the companies with large research and development budgets.
“There is an exciting journey into the future ahead of us but first we need to understand where we are going and then we can plan for the journey,” Bagraim said.
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