Skills, training, taxes: Here's how Fin24 readers would solve SA's jobs crisis

Unemployment is one of major challenges affecting the youth. (File)
Unemployment is one of major challenges affecting the youth. (File)

From lowering tax rates to developing unskilled workers and banning imports, Fin24 readers have shared some of their insights into how SA could combat the unemployment crisis.

Fin24 earlier asked readers to give their opinions on what solutions should be put in place ahead of the Jobs Summit.

With an unemployment rate of 27.2%, President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to open the two-day event in Johannesburg on Thursday.

The summit will see government, business and labour come together to address unemployment.

Here's how Fin24 readers would tackle the job crisis:  

Training, education and development 

Reader Justus Broeksma says companies should "replace minimum wage with skills-related wage". Broeksma believes plans should be put in place for a substantial skills programme specifically for South African citizens, "whereby sound values such as honesty, accountability and reliability are a requirement".

Others believe it's a numbers game.

"Train more people to earn the skills, knowledge, attitude and values of an entrepreneur. If only 30% of entrepreneurs are going to be successful, you need to train more: if you train 100, then 30 new businesses will be successful, but if you train 1000 then 300 more businesses will be established," says reader Dr Johan Louw, who is CEO for the Corporate Development Foundation. 

"The other 700 unsuccessful ones can work for the 300, because they will also have a better understanding of business," he reasons.  

Reader Chris Keenan believes it starts with education policy: the improvement of basic education, trade schooling and apprenticeships; a view echoed by another concerned reader who preferred to remain anonymous.

"Change education policy to include skills training in secondary schools because not all learners are academics. There are many students in secondary schools who cannot read and write and it is not [the] teacher's fault but the education system's fault," the anonymous reader wrote.

Fewer imports

Some readers noted the effect of imports on business, saying that in their view, cutting imports will minimise costs.

"I would suggest a ban on imported engineering products, or at least an extra cost to import. It is not only our facility that is affected, but plenty [of] other manufacturers," reader At Ludick of WAM Metals said.

He said businesses lost out due to "middlemen who send samples of their products to China or India". These companies import products at a cheaper price, he says, which leads to job losses and reduced hours.

Another anonymous reader echoed some of these sentiments, saying jobs could be created "immediately" if imports were curbed. "It's hard to understand that government and business never mention the amount of finished items we are importing," the reader wrote. "In my particular industry, we could create jobs immediately if the imports were balanced a bit more in favour of local manufacturers. We can never expect to stop imports, but we do need to try and give more work back to the country."

The reader also expressed a lack of faith that anything would change, saying, "They can have talks and summits but nothing happens. I can assure you that even the unions do not push for local manufacture. Perhaps the import duties are more viable for the government than actual jobs."

Reader Richard Mkhululi said government should invest in high-potential sectors, such as agriculture and the textile industry.

Small businesses and entrepreneurship

Many readers stressed the importance of entrepreneurs and small businesses, saying government should cut unnecessary red tape. One said that "with all the rules, taxes and regulations, it is not worth having a small business".

In entrepreneur Wynand Meyering's view, South Africa needs to lower the business taxes in its special economic zones to 3% or less – not least to encourage international investment.

Currently, South Africa has a business tax rate of 28% - higher than European countries, which have an average of 21.3% charged for business tax. 

"The China US trade war could benefit South Africa as an investment destination, as companies from China move from China to the rest of the world to limit the sensitive US/China trade imbalance," Meyering argues. 

A reader who went only by Pete added that efforts should be made to encourage stability for a more business-friendly environment, as businesses will be less keen to invest or develop their interests in unstable or volatile places.

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