Tech Track: Job creation comes from creating sound opportunities
By Kelvin Kemm
WE KEEP hearing about job creation. Person after person stands up somewhere and appeals for job creation. But job creation is really easy. It is possible to create 20 000 jobs in a month. No problem.
All you need to do is employ 10 000 people, with no qualifications required and issue them each with a shovel. Then you instruct them to go out into the bush and dig holes randomly. Two weeks later you employ a second 10 000 people and give them all shovels. You tell them to go out into the bush and to fill in any newly dug holes that they find. So you create 20 000 jobs in a month. Easy.
Of course, creating meaningful jobs which are of value to the economy is a different matter. That is done differently.
To pull wet spaghetti through a keyhole is much easier than to push it.
If you want jobs to appear you need to create profitable and sensible business and industrial opportunities. When individuals or groups pursue these opportunities then they soon create the resulting job opportunities. Such groups go looking for suitable people. They create the jobs.
The legislation and policy must make it easy for this to happen. Stop following false flags. For example: the “green economy” We are forever hearing how many green jobs will be created if we do something “green". Think about it for a moment. Most of these claims are ”pushing the spaghetti“. If you are forcing more jobs to be created than are necessary merely to do something ”green“ then you are forcing extra expenditure.
If you want to build a freeway it is possible to expand job creation by banning the use of bulldozers and trucks. Make it compulsory to use shovels and wheelbarrows only. You can even go further. You can replace shovels with teaspoons.
I am in favour of an environmentally responsible attitude. But forcing green labels on to all sorts of things merely to be one of the crowd is not a responsible action.
What the country needs is mega projects. We did it often in the past. We built mines, harbours, dams, power stations, freeways, and much more. It is necessary for government or private enterprise to conceive of such projects and then to start and just do them. But there is more. When such projects are initiated the necessary professionals must be tasked to start and then they must be left alone to get the job done. They cannot be constant interference from somewhere else giving instructions.
Some major projects which have been held up as bad examples of professional conduct are nearly always the result of outside interference. Mostly the engineering was correct and the fundamental plan was correct. That is the plan as developed by the professionals. Then the interference started. Professionals are told who to employ as a subcontractor. Or they are told to abide by some foreign specification not applicable to South African conditions.
Or external inspectors come, and to illustrate their power they develop obstacles. A while ago I did a consultancy job for two young engineers who scraped their money together and bought a small factory. They had little money left. They took their wives and children to the factory over weekends to picnic, as the men mixed concrete with their own hands and got the plant functional. Then came the municipal electrical inspection. The municipal inspector failed the electrics.
The electrical engineer disagreed and asked why. The inspector said that wires had to be a certain number of centimetres from the door, and theirs were too close or too far. The electrical engineer pointed out that it all worked perfectly and was totally safe. I was called in. I looked. It was all electrically totally sound. That was not the only such event. At times it seemed that inspectors and others seemed to go out of their way to make sure that the business failed. Some years later it is now doing very well.
This type of thing must not happen with large mega-projects. I am not for one moment saying that people can break the law. But the law should be there to assist society in general. Not to create impediments. Intelligent interpretation is required. So those in decision-making positions need the foresight to know that the virus effects will pass, and need the courage to initiate larger-scale action now. This must be based on local competence and professionalism. The job creation will follow, like pulling wet spaghetti through a keyhole.
Dr Kelvin Kemm is a nuclear physicist and is the chief executive of Stratek Business Strategy Consultants, a project management company based in Pretoria. [email protected]
*The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL or of title sites