South Africa’s unemployment rate hits a new high of 34.9% in the third quarter of 2021, pushing unemployment beyond the crisis level, says Kau Makgosa, project facilitator at Economic Development Solutions.
“The government has recognized that current strategies need to be significantly expanded to address the scale of the problem, in addition to seeking alternative approaches to building an engaged and economically active workforce. “
To tackle the high unemployment rate, it will be necessary to reintroduce blue-collar skills and training development, Makgosa said. This can help young people acquire skills that will make them useful to employers while helping South Africa to recover economically.
Makgosa said South Africa needs more skilled blue collar workers like farmers, artisans and traders.
For example, currently, in the mining sector and with the construction of renewable energy plants, our country must outsource these specialized manual skills, because local specialists are few.
“Developing the skills and training of blue collar workers to meet these needs would be an effective way to tackle the high unemployment rate without creating jobs. Such jobs don’t need to be created – they already exist – we just need to make sure we have the skills available locally.
The National Development Plan aims to train 30,000 artisans per year by 2030, while the latest government figures revealed a deficit of 40,000 artisans in the country.
Changing the perception of blue collar careers
Economic Development Solutions said that encouraging technical training or entrepreneurship from an early age in school curricula can make a significant difference in the number of unemployed.
“Not everyone has what it takes to be a doctor, lawyer, accountant or rocket scientist, and these aren’t the only career opportunities that pay well or lead to success.
“Instead, there are plenty of other opportunities for individuals to explore their own potential through gainful employment in skilled fields such as construction, renewables, manufacturing and mining, for no. to name a few, ”Makgosa said.
To facilitate this, training in craft and technical skills will need to be more readily available and accessible, especially in rural areas. More accredited artisan training colleges will be needed, in addition to an appropriate structure that oversees these facilities under the supervision of the Quality Council for Trade and Professions to prevent the emergence of illegal colleges.
“In addition to technical and vocational education and training colleges (TVET) offering the possibility of acquiring skills, companies should be encouraged to offer training, internships and apprenticeships to provide on-going vocational training. employment, as well as a realistic allowance. for the duration of these programs which allows the individual to cover basic living and transportation costs.
Let’s start with what we have
Tackling unemployment will require making the most of current opportunities, however limited they may be. For example, when renewable energy projects currently being tendered go into construction, regulations require that local people be appointed to work on those projects, Makgosa said.
This means the appointment of local service providers, the development of local suppliers and vocational training programs. “In this space alone there are 12 projects in the risk mitigation phase, meaning there is huge potential within this industry and all of its supporting industries to be part of the chain. procurement of these projects, Makgosa noted.
“Despite the delays on these projects, it is necessary to keep pushing because from the start of these projects, foreign investment will be encouraged, which in turn will encourage other industries to start investing in the supply chain as well. of these projects. And that’s only in one industry.
Skills must match demand
At the individual level, for young people who are considering their future, it is important to keep in mind that the skills they are looking for must be matched to the available work opportunities and that money rarely comes without having worked for it first. gain experience.
“At company level, companies need to think beyond BEE dashboards and checkboxes when it comes to apprenticeships and internships, and offer young job seekers ongoing training. job that prepares them for the real world of work and prepares them for permanent employment. use.”
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