Plans to gain more skills overseas
THE Gauteng department of economic development is treating skills development as a priority to stimulate economic development in the province.
In a preview ahead of the department's budget on Friday, Gauteng MEC for economic development Qedani Mahlangu said South Africa was struggling with a skills mismatch and jobless youths.
She outlined a number of plans to grow the province's economy, to reduce youth unemployment and to boost small businesses.
The economy of Gauteng is at the heart of the country's development and contributes about 34% to South Africa's GDP. The country is the fourth largest economy in Africa.
Mahlangu said her department would be working with the private sector to facilitate job creation, finance BEE, tourism and small business development.
"We have a lot of people who are unemployed but are unskilled, including unemployed graduates. But we have a lot of vacancies that needs to be filled by very high-end qualified people," Mahlangu said.
The department, with the University of Johannesburg, is working with a Swiss company, Watches of Switzerland, to establish a school that will offer training in designing watches.
Plans are in place to send a group of young people to Italy in September to acquire jewellery manufacturing skills. This programme is linked to the jewellery manufacturing precinct that will be based at OR Tambo International Airport.
"The jewellery manufacturing precinct is part of the Industrial Development Zones approved by the DTI. The commercial case for the project is almost complete.
"Construction of the precinct is expected to begin in September and end in April 2013. It will be designed according to the demands of investors," Mahlangu said.
"For many years South Africa has been mining gold and taking it to other countries for perfection.
"We end up buying jewellery at four or five times the price (we sold to them as raw material)," Mahlangu said.
"Whatever development is going to happen with any investor, wherever you come from, (the condition is that) first you will procure 90% of South African raw materials and you will employ 90% of South African labour. If you cannot do that we will not be interested," she said.
She said investors would be encouraged to use local materials, and, if not, they would have to prove that they could not find suitable materials locally before importing.
She said about R120 million had been allocated to develop small business through various development agencies in the province.
Mahlangu also said there were plans to merge the Gauteng Liquor Board and the Gauteng Gambling Board into one agency that would be more efficient.
The department would also increase the pool of youths who will be trained in ICT skills to increase the number of software engineers and applications developers.
Another area targeted for skills development is aviation.
"We have identified a training college in the US called Georgia Tech in Atlanta. We will send a group of young people in September to start aerospace training," Mahlangu said.