Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  04 May 2011

LABOUR: Government To Blame For Jobless


Recent Western Cape Business News

THE grim message contained in the unemployment figures for the first quarter of the year is that the government’s policies and plans to create more jobs are failing and may even be contributing to the problem, says the Cape Chamber of Commerce.

The Statistics SA figures, which were released this week, show that the number of jobless people has grown to 4.36 million or 25 percent of the population.

Mr Michael Bagraim, President of the Chamber said plans for wholesale changes in labour legislation had created a climate of uncertainty and this has discouraged many companies from creating new jobs.

I think we are also seeing the failure of the Setas in these figures. There have been some successes but they have not produced the artisans and technicians that are the backbone of a modern economy.”

Mr Bagraim pointed out the Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande, had admitted as much when he said the Setas had produced a training system that consisted of 75 to 80 percent of short courses.

The Minister had said: “As a country we have to think bigger than that and as Government we have a responsibility to say we need more artisans. Artisans require structured learning for a particular period.”

Mr Bagraim said he could not have put it better himself. “What the Minister is saying is that we need to go back to basics and revive and expand the tried and trusted apprentice system. It produced the artisans in the past and it can do so again.

I would like to assure the Minister that he will get the whole-hearted support of commerce and industry if he makes the apprentice system a top priority and disentangles it from some of the more onerous requirements of our labour legislation.”

He said government intervention in the labour market had proved to be counter- productive. “We can see this clearly in the agricultural sector which shed 24 000 jobs in the first three months of the year.

I have no doubt that the mismanagement of land reform and drastic changes planned for land tenure legislation have contributed to the problem. It has compelled farmers to mechanise and hundreds of good and productive farmers have packed up and moved to other countries in Africa and even to Georgia in the old Soviet Union.

We cannot afford an exodus like this. We are already in a position where we have to import food.”

The situation had been aggravated by the unions. In commerce and industry demands for outrageous wage increases had created a situation where employers would rather invest in machinery than people.

The solution to most of these problems is to go back to basics like the apprentice system and let commerce and industry get on with the job of growing the economy, creating jobs and the paying the taxes to fund the Government,” Mr Bagraim said. “The interventions and the law changes are just not working.”

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