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Stopping bleeding of jobs is crucial

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More South Africans are struggling to provide for their families in an economy that is unforgiving.

File photo: HENK KRUGER /AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY/ANA.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s declaration that unemployment in the country is a national disaster aptly sums up the state of the economy and the bleeding of jobs.

The country has consistently shed jobs, since the construction and jobs boom prior to the 2010 Fifa World Cup, as a result of international and domestic factors.

On Tuesday, Magashule said the ANC at its weekend lekgotla had agreed to a plan to reduce unemployment from 27% to 14% in the next five years. However, if weak economic growth persists, it will be difficult to reduce unemployment, inequality and poverty.

The trick to overturning the dismal unemployment figures is to retain jobs, but examples of mass retrenchment at Standard Bank and Tongaat Hulett reveal that job retention is becoming increasingly difficult.

Yet, keeping people in their jobs and then creating the climate for employment will be crucial if there is any hope of reducing unemployment. Support for small businesses and entrepreneurs will also be crucial, as the enterprises they run will create employment.

The statistics on unemployment are grim, but they should never be simply viewed as numbers. More South Africans are struggling to provide for their families in an economy that is unforgiving.

Jobs must be created for the skilled and high-wage earners but also for the unskilled and inexperienced job-seekers.

For the government and the private sector this is a balancing act that must be achieved if unemployment figures are to be reduced in the time frame that has been promised.