Economist says SA needs 83 000 jobs a month

South Africa needs to create 10-million jobs in the next 10 years to become a normal country, economist Mike Schussler said on Thursday.

“That would mean 83 000 jobs a month,” he said in Johannesburg at the release of trade union UASA’s 10th employment report.

“South Africa needs to create more jobs than the five million government is aiming for.”

He said South Africa had no other option but to outperform in the next decade.

“We are not in a good situation. We need a lot of employment growth.”

About 350 000 new jobs had been created in South Africa over the last 11 years but there had been a massive drop in those self-employed, Schussler said.

He said that in 2001 there were 2.2-million who were self employed and in 2010 it was 1.1 million.

Employers who employed more than four people — other than themselves — dropped from about 350 000 to 300 000 over the same period, he said.

“This indicates that employee numbers actually increased substantially but employer numbers dropped dramatically,” he said.

Schussler said if the country wanted to obtain the international average adult-employed ratio, it needed to increase the number of jobs “at least tenfold”.

He said South Africa also needed to free up entrepreneurship.

The ratio of adults employed fell from about 53% in 1991 to 40.8% in 2010.

“This is a substantial fall in the ratio of South Africans employed, however the actual number of employed adults has risen, it’s just that the SA population has risen much faster.”

Schussler said innovation and learning helped increase workers’ well-being.

“South Africa had outperformed the world in educational increases as less than 23% of our workforce had a matric qualification or more in 1991,” he said.

“In 2010 just over 37% of our adult population had finished school or more.”

However, South Africa was still lagging in specialised education.

Despite this educational attainment, the percentage of adults employed had fallen from about 46% to about 41%.

Schussler said South Africa had more labour laws than most countries around the world and a large number of people employed by the state.

“The private sector is taking its time in employing people and for that there must be a reason,” he said.

R9bn fund
On Tuesday, South Africa launched a R9-billion fund that aims to create 150 000 jobs in three years to fight the country’s 25% unemployment rate.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said South Africa needed “a new boldness and a new energy to be infused into the job creation process”, with R2-billion rand set aside to fund employment projects in 2011.

“Perhaps even more importantly, we need to be able to demonstrate that we can deliver on policy pronouncements and focus more on delivery than on talk about jobs,” he told reporters.

The fund is open to proposals from government departments, municipalities, business and NGOs on Tuesday and will issue grants for job programmes.

“This fund is a bold new venture that acknowledges we have got a problem,” said Brian Whittaker, deputy chair of the fund’s investment committee.

“Very high numbers of especially young people out of work is something that the country can’t live with and for which we don’t really have known and fixed solutions. There’s an opportunity here to do something innovative.”

The fund will be administered by the Development Bank of Southern Africa and aims at a matched funding ratio for private sector applicants.

“The establishment of the fund doesn’t remove the constraints but what hopefully the fund does is releases a degree of creativity that we haven’t seen before,” said Whittaker.

“It will enable us as a country to be bolder on some of the initiatives than we have before and to take some risks.”

The fund works on a co-funding approach, with the private sector expected to match grants awarded. — Sapa, AFP

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