SPEECH BY MINISTER OF LABOUR, MILDRED OLIPHANT

MINISTER OF LABOUR Ms. MILDRED OLIPHANT

ON THE OCCASION OF THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR AND THE SOUTH AFRICAN INSTITUTE OF CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS (SAICA) HELD ON 24 FEBRUARY 2017 IN PRETORIA

Programme Director: Mr Vuyo Mafata: [Who is also the Commissioner of the Compensation Fund:]

Director General of the Department: Mr Thobile Lamati

Deputy Vice Chancellor of TUT: Professor Mukhola

Senior Executive of SAICA: Ms Chantyl Mulder

Dr Brenda Nemukongwe

Distunguished Guests;

Members of the Media;

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

Good morning!!!

It is indeed a great pleasure to welcome all of you on this “Important” and “Timely” occasion where we are launching the partnership between the Department of Labour and the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.  “Building Tomorrow’s leaders today through enhancing the employability of our young people, for our own needs as the Department, and that of the country’s economy at large.

This is “Important” in that it finds expression in the National Development Plan, our master plan to make South Africa a better place for all who live in it;  “Timely”, in that it follows closely on the footsteps of the recently published statistics on the employment trends in South Arica.  Judging from the recent statistics on the employment front, it is clear that the stubborn challenge of unemployment still persists.

The initiative that we are launching this morning, is yet another of many efforts that this government is pursuing to address unemployment, and by extension playing a catalytic role towards an all-inclusive economic participation of our people in general, and our youth in particular.  We are deeply concerned that unemployment still remains very high among our young people.  Stats-SA also points out that youth (aged between 15-34) remain vulnerable in the labour market with unemployment rate of 37,1% which is 10,6 percentage points above the national average.  Again, Stats-SA has confirmed that Black African women are more vulnerable in the labour market; they are employed largely in low-skilled occupations.

It follows therefore that the bias of this programme should as far as is possible gravitate towards bringing on board youth and women.

Programme Director; If one takes to heart what our former President and the late Nelson Mandela had to say about young people when addressing Qunu and Nkalade schools on 3 June 1995…, and I quote;

“Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth, those who care for and protect our people.” Close quote. … then this is indeed an important and timely intervention.

In pursuing these efforts, we need to be mindful of the current trends which we should learn from, and possibly use to shape the architecture of our interventions going forward.

The recent statistics show that the share of employed persons with tertiary qualifications, was highest among the white and Indian and/or Asian population groups at 30.3%, whilst the share of employed persons with a tertiary qualification among the black African and the coloured population groups, was a miserable 17% and 13,% respectively. The white and Indian and/or Asian population groups (both men and women) dominate employment in skilled occupations.

What is mind-boggling though, is that in most instances these graduates poses qualifications obtained from the same tertiary institutions, yet access to employment opportunities remain skewed.

The CEO of SAICA was recently quoted as saying most company Directors, Chief Executives, and Chief Financial Officers of JSE-listed companies were white males. That 75% of directorships on JSE-listed companies were currently held by white men and women, while 87% of directorships are held by men.

We all should be worried –sick about this state of affairs as this goes against the grain of the Radical Transformation that our President continue to speak about at every opportunity.

It is somewhat heartening however, that we are partnering with an Institution that understands the extent of the transformation deficit that exists in our country. These revelations resonate with the frustrations which also confront us on the Employment Equity front. This cannot be a true reflection of the lack of black South Africans who are suitably qualified to hold these positions. This cannot be attributed to skills shortage, I dare say, but something more mysterious than that. It would therefore be useful if our academic institutions could one day diagnose this mystery or phenomenon, identify the underlying causes and provide some possible remedies.

The results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the fourth quarter of 2016 released by Statistics South Africa last week, also indicate that employment grew by 235 000 resulting in slight decline in the unemployment rate to 26,5%. It also states that the growth in employment was mainly driven by Services industry which grew by 73 000, followed by Transport and Manufacturing which grew by 46 000 and 44 000 respectively.  This therefore demonstrates that locating this initiative in the services industry, is not shooting in dark, but backed by evidence that this is indeed the locus where employment growth is happening.

Programme Director: The Compensation Fund is a specialised environment and as such requires specialised skills to fulfill the core of its mandate.

Our environment straddles specialised professional disciplines such as; Accounting, Medical Doctors, Orthotics, Prosthesis and Occupational Therapy among others.  This partnership with SAICA seeks to achieve three things in the main;

1. Develop specialised skills for our own needs in the Compensation Fund in order to enhance our capabilities to deliver on our mandate;

2. Train more than what we need and through our Public Employment Services; facilitate the placement of the learners in job opportunities within government and other institutions;

3. Enhance the employability of participants on the programme and as such contribute meaningfully in addressing the unemployment challenge.

Whilst this is a ground breaking initiative and a much needed intervention, the first intake will be very much a pilot and the initial numbers will not be too big to render it unmanageable and not too small to render it meaningless. The Compensation Fund has ring-fenced 17 million Rand over three to six years for this programme. We are optimistic that this programme will contribute to addressing what is often referred to as scarce skills and enhance the employability of our people especially the youth from poor backgrounds and those that are referred to as the missing middle. 

We have decided to enroll 100 learners for 2017/18 as follows:

·         Medical Doctors: (20)

·         Medical Orthotics and Prosthesis: (20)

·         Nurses: (20)

·         Occupational Therapists: (35)

·         Actuaries: (5)

The duration of the programme will range from three to six years.  The criterion for admission on the programme has been crafted in manner that is not going to keep out deserving candidates. This is the beginning and we hope to increase the intake in the years ahead.

Ladies and Gentlemen; Now that this partnership and the importance of what we are introducing this morning has been explained, what is left is to formally launch this initiative and wish all those involved great success.  We will be watching as this initiative unfolds and begins to yield sustainable dividends for our people.

Let’s us de-bunk the maxim, that ”if you want to see the best plans, go to South Africa; and again if you want to learn how not implement good plans, go to South Africa.”

We have no option Ladies and Gentlemen, but to make this work or the history will judge us harshly.

I thank you

Enquiries: Sithembele Tshwete on 071 675 9849/ Sithembele.tshwete@labour.gov.za 

Issued by Government Communications (GCIS) on behalf of the Department of Labour

 

24 February 2017