Businesses in trouble
COMMENT: "The country needs job creators more than it does job seekers"
ON FRIDAY the Manufacturing Circle - a grouping that represents local manufacturers - released their Manufacturing Bulletin for the first quarter of the year.
The bulletin contains scary observations about the future of the economy and its ability to create much-needed jobs - especially for newcomers to the labour market.
"South Africa is in very real danger of losing its small manufacturing base as a result of adverse economic conditions and ageing entrepreneurs, with few new ones emerging to replace them," the bulletin reads.
It says many entrepreneurs running small plants were "bluntly pessimistic" about their long-term prospects and those of new entrepreneurs.
About 35% of the manufacturers canvassed said they would not be involved in their businesses in 10 to 20 years' time.
A sense emerges from the bulletin that many of these enterprises will in future face closure rather than sale or succession.
The fact that ageing entrepreneurs are not being replaced by younger ones is problematic, given the fact that our universities can barely cope with student numbers.
It raises the urgent question: what are the students training for?
If they are not training to be entrepreneurs who will create jobs it means they are training to be job seekers. There can be no worse form of economic regression than that.
The country needs job creators more than it does job seekers. We have enough of the latter, roaming the streets and relying on unsustainable government hand-outs.
Churning out seekers would be less of a problem if those emerging from the universities were equal to the requirements of the few jobs available.
Unfortunately, that's not the case.
On the eligibility of graduates for highly skilled jobs, the bulletin says 15% of small manufacturers say literacy and numeracy is poor and doing on-the-job training is doubly burdensome.
It says there will be a silver lining to a dark cloud if the government pursues the correct policies.
We hope the government, particularly Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande, is listening.
More importantly, the message should be made clear to the youth, most of whom are black, that their future is tied up with entrepreneurship, not to be confused with tenderpreneurship.