We can increase job creation only if government butts out

AN UNEMPLOYED graduate pleads for a job at an intersection in Johannesburg in June 2020. In actual numbers, 4.8 million young people are looking for jobs, and a further 2.4 million have lost hope, says the writer. | REUTERS

AN UNEMPLOYED graduate pleads for a job at an intersection in Johannesburg in June 2020. In actual numbers, 4.8 million young people are looking for jobs, and a further 2.4 million have lost hope, says the writer. | REUTERS

Published Dec 3, 2023


It would be safe to say that the national government has a role to play in job creation by creating an environment conducive for the business community to create jobs.

The ANC-led government, unfortunately, has not created an environment conducive to job creation and the new government is going to have a long road to travel to ensure that the environment is corrected and replaced with a more conducive one.

It was John F Kennedy who said: “When we got into office, the thing that surprised me the most was that things were as bad as we’d been saying they were.” In essence, a new government coming into office in 2024 has a particularly difficult job.

The Western Cape provincial government has proven to be a government that creates an environment conducive to job creation. Likewise, the City of Cape Town has paved the groundwork for job creation and is producing results that have improved job creation year on year.

It is important to run a clean, efficient and well-structured government to enable job creation. It is not sustainable to continue with the same government policies that we’ve seen for the past 30 years. The policies have led us into a desperate situation where almost 50% of South Africans can’t find a job. It is therefore trite to state that the government does not create sustainable jobs. It also trite to state that small business is the engine room for job creation throughout the world.

The state needs to internalise lessons as espoused by economists worldwide. The state needs to take its hand off job creation and merely provide the environment for the business community to do the necessary.

A study and research into the legislation in South Africa has shown that it has acted as a handbrake to job creation. I have had a careful look at the various regulations across the board in the labour environment and have seen dozens of regulations that retard job creation.

Using the research, it can be shown that we can create a positive environment and move the barometer into the positive in the future. The Western Cape, which is under successful governance, has shown itself to be the only province that has dropped the unemployment figures to below 21%. Using this knowledge, all other provinces need to follow suit and enable the business community to create jobs for a solvent and successful future.

Obviously, there are factors that have to be taken into account that would immediately result in job creation. The “low-hanging fruits” cost the government nothing and would release the factors holding back the small business community.

First, the uncoupling of small businesses from the bargaining council system would ensure that hundreds of thousands of jobs would come online within months. The jobs would be sustainable and lead to the training of thousands of employees. The issue was initially raised by a former finance minister, Tito Mboweni, but, of course, he was immediately shouted down by a socialist trade union movement.

Second, the release of small businesses from the minimum wage regulation and legislation would, likewise, create an environment conducive to immediate job creation. Instead of almost 50% of our population earning nothing every month, we would have people working for small businesses and receiving training at a slightly lower rate.

The business community must ensure that people are trained and promoted and eventually earn far in excess of that minimum rate.

Third, the duplicitous and discriminatory legislation and regulations of the Employment Equity legislation has been holding up businesses for more than 20 years. Restructure the system entirely thereby creating masses of opportunity for employment within big and small business sectors.

The plethora of ridiculous and dastardly ANC policies with regard to race must immediately be eradicated. A new government would ensure that all racial laws that are reminiscent of apartheid would be removed from our statute books. Issues such as race-based criteria in determining agricultural exports would disappear. This would immediately enhance the business community.

Over the medium term, we need to ensure that the education system is enhanced and geared towards supporting our economy in helping people move into jobs in the future.

Suitably qualified individuals coming out of a properly run schooling and tertiary educational system would become employable and would, in turn, enhance the business sector. The education portfolios would have to do an enormous amount of work to ensure that under the new government, South Africans would become productive in the economy.

Productivity SA, an entity under the Department of Employment and Labour, reports that we have the second lowest productivity in the world. We need to ensure that education is geared toward what is required of the future employees of South Africa. We, as citizens, want to ensure that people will find jobs and will, in turn, be able to enhance the entire system. More jobs would mean less crime, fewer health issues and an enhanced fiscus.

* Michael Bagraim.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

Do you have something on your mind; or want to comment on the big stories of the day? We would love to hear from you. Please send your letters to [email protected].

All letters to be considered for publication, must contain full names, addresses and contact details (not for publication)