Johannesburg:Partnerships are important in the fight against unemployment and the Gauteng province’s economy will have to grow by no less than six percent in order to create jobs, MEC for Economic Development Nkosiphendule Kolisile said.
Speaking at the launch of the Reashoma Gauteng @Work jobs campaign at Constitution Hill on Wednesday, Kolisile said partnerships between government, the private sector and civil society were important if unemployment was to be overcome.
“Government must lead the way,” he told reporters. Gauteng contributes 34% to the country’s GDP though it has an unemployment rate of 25.4%.
The campaign is geared towards forging strategic partnerships with key stakeholders to work together to create an environment for effective economic growth in the province. A further aim is to find solutions to address the unemployment challenge.
Under the New Growth Path, South Africa aims to create five million jobs by 2020. “As Gauteng we have set a target of creating 1.5 million jobs by then. We need a growth rate of no less than 6% [in order to achieve that]. We can’t do it alone, we need the private sector and they have indicated that they are willing to invest in Gauteng and South Africa,” explained the MEC.
Companies such as Ford and MTN are investing in the province.
Kolisile added that Cabinet had approved the creation of the Gauteng Investment Centre which will be a one-stop shop that will help eliminate “unnecessary barriers” for investment in the province.
Parastatals, said the MEC, will also be involved in the centre. “We want to crowd in more investment,” he said.
More focus also needs to be paid to small business and cooperatives as they are important job creators.
The campaign is aimed at propelling the province’s economy, especially as unemployment is a priority.
The MEC had engaged labour as well as business on the campaign. “There must be growth in the economy. We should hone on partnerships.”
Kolisile said there was a need to look at the phenomenon of “sleeping cities” whereby cities closed for business at certain times. “We need to have a conversation on why we have sleeping cities when we have such high unemployment. We can’t afford to have sleeping cities.”
The launch was attended by a range of Gauteng-based companies and small businesses operating in the manufacturing, mining, automobile, banking, telecommunications, tourism and many other sectors.
Chief Executive Officer and President of Ford South Africa Jeff Nemeth said although there were currently challenges, these could be overcome.
Ford, which has operated in South Africa since 1925, operates a simulating training centre while it also trains students for a two year period after which a maximum three students are then employed permanently.
“Opportunity to tap into the youth in South Africa is huge but what needs to happen is a greater and deeper partnership with government and business,” said Nemath.