Do We Need Jobs More than Robots?

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I don’t envy our Trade and Industry Rob Davies. He has a tough job serving a President he wants to remove, and the challenges he faces are really daunting.
He was in action the other week, opening a factory owned by Black Industrialists, which makes industrial cables. The Alberton United Industrial Cables (UIC) factory is testament to genuine BEE, as Davies himself stressed.
This factory will be the only one in Africa to make at least one sort of specialist cable and it was good to see how state grants and incentives have worked well in getting this venture going.
Of course, there is no perfect solution to SA’s industrial ills. This factory is full of machinery imported from China, and does not look as if it will be a major employer.
Same problem at a Germiston factory formally opened last week. Lucchini RS, an Italian manufacturer of forged railway products, has invested R200m in a new factory.
Almost R38m has been given by government in tax and training allowances, and the factory is modern and impressive. So far, so good. But where are the jobs?
We were told 38 or so jobs have been created, which makes it around R1m a job if you look at the state support.
The R1m-a-time job creation initiative will reduce imports, has brought new skills, and will form the foundation for future inward investment. And there are BEE partners who are benefiting, all of whom seemed to have smarter suits than the dti Minister.
But with the economy in recession, with unemployment at crisis levels and rising, are we getting enough job creation?
A review is underway of the whole arsenal of government investment incentives. Let us make sure that job creation remains at the front of our minds.
Of course we want sustainable and skilled jobs. But we need tens of millions of them.
And we just can’t afford to create jobs at R1m a time.

Tweet of the Day.

Sean Leahy (@thepunningman): Interviewer: Under skills you put horse whisperer and able to see ghosts

Me: Ask that horse if you don’t believe me

Interviewer: What horse?

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