While it should be appreciated that the government has placed education as a priority within the budget, it is still our deep feeling that greater action is required. The Minister talks at length about the huge employment drive wherein companies will be reimbursed via the tax system if they employ inexperienced young people – he boldly estimates that 800 000 young people stand to benefit in this way. This is highly commendable. However, he does not provide for a comprehensive education plan that includes education related to other employment creators such as entrepreneurship which would go some way to addressing the unemployment problem at source.
In a May 2008 Newsletter, the Independent Development Corporation (IDC) highlighted the critical and positive contribution of entrepreneurship to social and economic development in South Africa.
“Entrepreneurs create and bring to life new technologies, products and services and create new markets and jobs along the way. Entrepreneurs are smart risk takers, implementers, rule-breakers; or in a word: innovators. And like any emerging economy aiming to move ahead, in South Africa we need lots of them! At a macro-level private sector development and entrepreneurship development are essential ingredients for achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of reducing poverty.”
In 2007, 2,7 million people in South Africa, aged between 15 and 30 years old, were unemployed, with 72% never having worked before. Employers appear reluctant to employ young and inexperienced people and yet they are the quickest learners. The need to focus on the development of entrepreneurial skills in these young people is self evident. Our school curriculum should encourage enterprise development and include critical life skills that supplement and enhance the formal education system.
This new government initiative appears to advocate a generation of young people waiting for someone to do something for them, carrying their CVs and waiting to be employed instead of creating their own jobs for themselves and possibly others.
It would be interesting to determine if the market is capable of absorbing the number cited by the Minister.
Until such time that a comprehensive education plan that encompasses all employment creators is implemented, the Minister’s plan is not sustainable.
Marketing and Communications Manager
Junior Achievement South Africa