Address by the Minister of Labour the Hon Mildred Oliphant at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Job Summit, Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
28 Sep 2012
The Premier of the province
The executive mayor
SAMSA CEO and your management team
National Ministers present
Ladies and gentleman
There is always something exciting when you see a plan coming together or a dream becoming a reality.
Today we are gathered here under the auspices of the South African Maritime Safety Authority’s Industry Careers Expo and Job Summit. This gathering echoes the other gatherings that we have been having around the country hosted by the Department of Labour's Public Employment Services.
Whereas the department has looked at all available opportunities, this particular industry expo and jobs fair is focussed at the maritime industry.
Commander Mokhele and your management team!
Before I go any further, I would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate you for the vision that you have shared and have presented at every available platform to make a difference in the lives of our people. You have brought hope to the hopeless by pointing out that this country would do well in taking up opportunities presented by the maritime sector.
It requires no mention that the country has been ill-served by the disposal of the country's fleet just before we attained our freedom in 1994. As they say, there is no use crying over spilt milk but what is important is what difference we can bring today.
Delivering a speech at the Assembly of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in June this year, Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung Su Kyi said the biggest problem the world is facing in not joblessness but hopelessness. This was especially more so as the largest number of those who are without this hope are young people.
It has been estimated by the ILO that at least 75-million young people worldwide are jobless. This is truly an untenable scenario. But the worst part is that a large number of those young people have given up the quest of looking for employment. In other words, they have lost all hope.
Events like the one that South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has been hosting this week are just one of the ways that we are trying as this government to bring hope to our people. Some will claim it is too little too late. Others will conjure up other scarecrows about the failures of government to provide employment. But we will not be fazed. Alongside other government agencies like SAMSA, we will continue to bring hope to the hopeless.
I mentioned the Department of Labour’s Public Employment Services earlier. This branch has been seized with finding ways of matching skills to need. This, programme director, is what SAMSA has been doing here and this can only mean that the gospel of matching skills to need is important.
But it is even more important that SAMSA is even reaching out to the schools – and getting the seed planted there in the first place which may very well be the best way to encourage youngsters to seek a career in an industry that is new, exciting and holds immense possibilities.
This is the reason that learners and job seekers have been able to find out about bursaries, learnerships and in-service training, as well as how to access funding. They also had a chance to meet potential future key employers and inspiring people from the industry, get free career advice, attend interactive information sessions, receive advice on writing a CV, receive a toolkit with all they need to know about getting into the industry, and enjoy plenty of fun and entertainment.
The expo has also offered a full educator workshop programme and a comprehensive toolkit for teachers, to provide them with the necessary information and skills to teach learners about maritime careers.
This is an important foundational phase. But there is more.
Central to the matching of skills is the database that the Department of Labour has been hard at work refining. This database will only work when jobseekers and employers take it seriously and use it for what it is supposed to be. For work seekers, it opens a window of hope that an employer, who needs the particular skill, will be able to make an offer.
For the employer, it means that the much needed warm body would be found without the employer spending a cent. The department is offering this service for free. We would also like to urge employers to register available vacancies on our database which would then make it easy to match need to skill.
Ladies and gentlemen
I must confess that I have been overwhelmed and saddened during our job fairs and summits to see queues of young men and women snaking for blocks on end, waiting patiently for the chance to register on the database and with the hope that they will be able to find employment.
It is cold comfort that the rate of unemployment remains below 25% percent. Behind the statistics lies real people who have hopes and dreams and look to this government, business, labour and all sectors of society to do whatever is within reach to make a difference.
One of the reasons that companies downsize and get rid of employees is because of the prevailing economic climate which has been inclement at best with a few signs of improving.
I am therefore happy to urge companies who feel the squeeze to approach government in different spheres for relief. For example, through the Industrial Development Corporation, the Department of Labour has offered assistance to companies in distress.
To date, R4 billion has been invested with the Industrial Development Cooperation and of that amount, R2.9 billion has been approved for 168 business deals resulting in the creation of 17 406 new and the retention of 18 672 jobs. Therefore, the combined jobs created and saved stands at 36 078.
In support of the President’s commitment to improving the country’s infrastructure and to create jobs, as was articulated during his Excellency’s state of the National Address in 2012, the Department of Labour through UI branch has invested R37.8 billion in this regard. This money is invested in Government Bonds and Parastatals.
The department through Compensation Fund (CF) has set aside R2 billion which will be invested through the Public Investment Corporation for investment in social infrastructure projects and other job creation projects. The projects to be funded will be identified and implemented once the investment mandate has been finalised.
Furthermore, the department through UI branch has committed between R200 million to R500 million to invest in agricultural projects. This investment will create jobs and support food security in South Africa. The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has also contributed a further R1.2 billion to fund the Training Lay-off Scheme. The scheme is aimed at distressed companies due to the economic conditions and at workers who may be at risk of retrenchment.
Through the scheme workers agree to forgo their normal wage to attend training programmes and to accept a training allowance during this period. Employers gain a financial recovery period by reducing payroll costs for a period and improve the skills levels of their workers at limited costs to the company. I would like to appeal to companies representatives represented here, who might be facing difficult trading conditions to consider using the funding to avoid retrenchments.
We have also trained and empowered individuals on various artisan skills and to date 321 individuals have been trained. The Fund has also partnered with the National Skills Fund (NSF), the various Sector Education Training Authorities (SETA’s) and Productivity South Africa to set up an up-skilling/training project of which R210 million has been set aside in this financial year.
Since the inception of the Training of the Unemployed project R155.9 million has been committed through funding agreements. UIF has also signed funding agreements to the value of R129 million with the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) and the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services SETA (MERSETA) to train 2500 artisans. The training started in 2011/12 financial year.
These are just some of the basket of interventions that our government has embarked on to show that we lead from the front.
I am also happy to report that the department has forged ahead with the thorny issue of ratifying the outstanding conventions on seafarers. Member states of the ILO adopted the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) in 2006. But for the Convention to come into force, it must be ratified by 30 countries and 33% of the world’s gross tonnage.
When we disuss these issues in the ILO, all stakeholders – business, government and labour – take part in the discussions and agreements. But when we make amendments on legislation flowing from the conventions, we are surprised when some people say they were not party to these agreements.
The convention is now before Parliament while National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) is still busy finalising amendments to Merchant Shipping legislation. This indeed is in progress and bodes well for the future of our maritime industry.
We long to see the day when more South Africans, in particular black people become owners and serious players in this industry. We would also like to see maritime tourism take pride of place and help provide the much needed jobs in our country.
All of what we are looking for requires skill and the kind of intervention that we have seen here gives us reason to be hopeful.
In closing, I would like to thank the province of KwaZulu-Natal through the Department of Economic Development and Tourism for hosting this career expo and job summit as well as our reliable partners in progress, SAMSA, and other partners.
The seeds of what we are doing today will be reaped in future by our generations and there is no nobler goal than to do the best we can today for the generations to come.
This is what the Freedom Charter called for. This is exactly what we are doing. In the words of the ANC Women’s League founding president Charlotte Maxeke who said in her Presidential address to the National Council of African Women.
“This work is not for yourselves — kill that spirit of self, and do not live above your people, but live with them. If you can rise, bring someone with you’’.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Labour
28 Sep 2012
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