Address by Minister Oliphant at the graduation ceremony for UIF students, Emperors's palace
2 Dec 2011
Representative of Business and Labour
Chairperson of the Select Committee on Labour Ms Priscilla Themba
Director-General Mr Nkosinathi Nhleko
UIF Commissioner Mr Boas Seruwe and the UIF board
The graduating students who are the VVIPs today
Ladies and gentlemen
It is indeed an honour for me to be part of this graduation ceremony as we celebrate this special achievement and the remarkable level of commitment these students have shown.
Sometimes we forget how difficult it can be to go the full distance. It is for this reason that we particularly congratulate the class of 2011 who have undergone various artisan training since March of that year. It is encouraging that their commitment has seen them completing the training. Not many can keep up with the rigour of the training and we know that many throw in the towel long before the end arrives. We are grateful for your commitment and dedication and hope that you will become a beacon of light for others.
South Africa suffers from the paucity of skills and to begin to defeat this beast of unemployment, we need dedicated individuals like yourselves. Unfortunately too many people expect far too much for little or no effort. It doesn’t work like that.Your graduation today is a manifestation of the Department of Labour resoluteness in addressing the skills gap thus dealing a blow to structural unemployment. It is just one of the many initiatives that we have embarked on.
Unemployment, particularly youth unemployment poses a mortal danger to our nascent democracy. We have seen the results thereof in many parts of our continent and the world of how destructive the youth vigour can be if not channeled to the correct effort. Countries in the north have gone up in smoke. Our commitment to youth employment is not only about avoiding the skirmishes we have seen in other countries but rather it is our belief that it is a right and correct thing to do.
Today, I would also like to acknowledge the role of the former Minister in approving the Training of the Unemployed Scheme. The UIF Board must be acknowledged as well for seeing beyond its narrow mandate of receiving and paying benefits, to devising schemes to intervene in efforts to improve the skills levels of South Africa’s youth and people. These interventions are a must if South Africa is to win the battle against insufficient skills, unemployment and poverty.
In his inaugural state of the Nation Address in 2009, the honourable president Jacob Zuma stated: “The creation of decent work will be at the centre of our economic policies and will influence our investment attraction and job creation initiatives.”
It is against this background that there is consensus that creating decent work, reducing inequality and defeating poverty can happen through a New Growth Path (NGP) founded on the restructuring of the South African economy to improve its performance in terms of labour absorption as well as the composition and rate of economic growth.
The NGP commits all of us to job creation and poverty eradication. Today’s occasion symbolizes the department of labour’s contribution to job creation and poverty alleviation. The country lost almost a million jobs during the economic downturn. Lately, the National Planning Commission has waded in the discussion and the thread is common – employment, employment and more employment.
We need to roll our sleeves and work to create the equal number of job opportunities; in fact we need to redouble that figure to ensure that we win the fight against joblessness and poverty. There is no dignity in being unemployed. The skills that you have now acquired are tools that will enable you to get decent jobs – jobs that will sustain you and your families. Go out there and be productive citizens of the republic and contribute to the country’s economic prosperity.
The country has set itself a target of providing 50 000 artisans by 2015. We are committed as the department to do our best to ensure that we strive to achieve this target. This figure indicates a huge appetite for your skills in business.
I take pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, to announce a commitment of R84-million to fund training which will be conducted by the Manufacturing and Related Sector Training Authority (Merseta). This funding through UIF will provide essential skills to at least 1500 trainees over three years.
This funding indicates our commitment to skills development and is also aligned to the potential of jobs that can be created in the manufacturing sector as projected by the NGP of an additional 80 000 jobs in manufacturing and construction.
Furthermore, ladies and gentlemen, we will also be funding the Mining Qualification Authority (MQA) in furtherance of our commitment to train more people. The MQA funding is set at R45 million and a total of 1000 candidates will receive related training for a period of three years as well. Both agreements indicate a grand total of R129 million – a huge investment in skills development. Your commitment to your studies has made it easier for us to provide this funding.
The investment is also informed by the NGP’s projections of massive job opportunities that lie ahead in terms of its diagnosis on key drivers for job creation. In terms of infrastructure development, the NGP projects that this sector can create up to 250 000 jobs per year in four activities: Construction of new infrastructure, operation of the new facilities, expanded maintenance and the manufacture of components for the infrastructure programme.
The skills you now possess will be in demand in order to achieve the objectives of the NGP. It is my hope that more will emulate you and will register for training and walk the distance.
The ANC-led government has created a platform from which your skills can be improved. Use these opportunities and use them profitably for your benefit and that of the country. We are indeed committed to skills development in pursuance of achieving the elusive yet realisable concept of creating decent work for our people.
I want to challenge you to also consider being creators of employment instead of just being employees. The country needs entrepreneurs. The skills that you posses will also enable you to be employers as well, for example those of you who have qualifications such as plumbing and motor mechanics can start you own small business enterprises thereby employing people to assist you in your business. It has been well documented that small business drives employment creation.
Apart from the department of labour other government entities such as the department of Trade and Industry have funds to assist start up businesses. Go out there and search for such opportunities.
Together we can do more. The New Growth Path challenges every South African to contribute in building our nation. It demands collective efforts, creativity and solidarity. The department and by extension government has empowered you with these skills. It is now your turn to empower South African and its people.
I THANK YOU
 New Growth path
Issued by: Department of Labour
2 Dec 2011
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