12 February 2013

South Africa: Premier Zille Urges Job Creating Growth As Number One Priority

press release

The Western Cape has to ensure that its brightest and best skills and capital stay in the province and that the Western Cape becomes the best place to invest in the world.

This is the vision of the Western Cape Government, which was the message from Premier Helen Zille at the Premier's Council on Skills (PCS) symposium held in Bellville earlier today. She was addressing representatives from government, higher education institutions, organised labour and business who had gathered to find solutions that would drive demand-led skills development to address the Western Cape's skills gaps in identified economic sectors with high-growth potential such as oil & gas and the green economy.

Speaking at the opening of the PCS symposium, Premier Zille emphasised that in order to solve the crisis of unemployment facing South Africa, the government has to prioritise job creating growth. This is what underpins the Western Cape Government's Strategic Objective 1, which is to create an enabling business environment that attracts investment and spurs growth.

Premier Zille said, "An adequate skills base is a key factor to having an enabling business environment," and that is why effective skills development; demand-led and implemented in public-private partnerships - is essential. "We have to forecast where growth and investment are likely to happen in the next few years, and the government then has to see what it can do to help meet the needs of investors and the requirements for growth," Premier Zille added.

Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, further elaborated on this approach by pointing to economic forecasts which indicate that there will be a drop in demand for unskilled labour and increased demand for semi-skilled labour in future.

"Essentially, we are currently preparing learners for jobs that don't yet exist," he said. "One of the key recruitment requirements of business is work experience," and the Western Cape Government is already playing a facilitative role in this regard through its Work and Skills Programme and the Premier's Advancement of Youth (PAY) Project which give young people on-the-job training and work experience opportunities.

Premier Zille outlined three key ingredients for inclusive growth that can lead to shared prosperity, emphasising that the government has a crucial and specific role to play. She explained these factors to be investment-driven economic growth, high-quality education and skills training (especially in poor communities) and a functional justice system.

"Government has ever succeeded in doing anything by itself," she said, "and we need everyone, including families and individuals, to play their part in achieving meaningful development. This is what we mean by 'Better Together'.

Issued by: Western Cape Office of the Premier

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