It’s ‘business unusual’ for SA maritime sector as investment grows, but jobs creation flops: Dept of Planning….

DSC_3914Pretoria: 21 October 2019

An envisaged reorganization and alignment of education and training in South Africa’s maritime sector is a welcome development, but role players would be well advised not to waste South Africans’ time with skills sets that won’t lend them jobs, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation was warned.

The warning came from the department’s head of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy), Mr Mpumzi Bonga while addressing delegates to a two-day conference organised by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) in Durban last week.

The indaba, in Durban on Monday and Tuesday, according to SAIMI, was organised against the backdrop of a realization that while the oceans economy in South Africa and the rest of the African continent was being probed anew as the future frontier of economic development,  South Africa is inadequately prepared as it does not have the manpower with the skills to match present and anticipated future demand in the sector.

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According to SAIMI acting chief executive, Mr Odwa Mtati: “In order to activate the potential, we need the skills to match the demand….”

However, Mr Bonga in an overview address of the overall performance of the Government driven Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) since launch in 2014, said investment performance had so far exceeded expectations, but it was simply not creating the number of jobs anticipated.

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Mr Mpumzi Bonga. Head of Operation Phakisa: Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation

He said investment to date in the targeted maritime sector subsectors had risen to above R40-billion – about R9-billion above target –  in the five years since launch of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) and yet anticipated job creation on the other hand, had only yielded less than 10 000 direct jobs – a far cry from the 77 000 jobs hoped to be created.

Even with indirect jobs accounted for, Mr Bonga said the jobs creation picture in the maritime sector remained dismal. The mismatch in growing direct investment and job creation by the sector in the five year period, he said, could be explained by the fact that the bulk of the investment generated to date had been by the off shore oil and gas subsector, directed largely at seismic surveys and exploration, which required very highly specialized skills and fewer people to perform.

DSC_5664.JPGEven so, he said it was barely an acceptable fact that the maritime sector in general, and specifically the targeted subsectors, were not delivering on the promise the launch of Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) gave at inception.

“Continued implementation of Operation Phakisa reveals that we have attracted so far R41-1-billion and less than 10 000. The anticipation was to grow the GDP contribution by R171-billion and create a million jobs by 2033. Now, this is five years on and not the 16-17 year horizon that we used for planning.

“In today’s terms, we were supposed to have grown the GDP contribution by R32-billion this year, and created 77 000 jobs. If we look at a leniarity constant between investment made and the GDP we can happily say we have exceeded the investment that was expected. But can we say the same of job creation, and the answer is decidedly, no!” he said.

A star performer in investment attraction was the off-shore oil gas and MPG subsectors which were responsible for the large bulk of the R41.1-billion investment made to date. Laggards on the hand included the maritime transport and manufacturing and the tourism subsectors – the subsectors with the greatest potential to create jobs.

Part of the reason this was not happening, Mr Bonga suggested, was an apparent mismatch of skills with jobs requirements, coupled with very slow transformation of the sector in terms human capital population demographics.

“The reason I am bringing this up is so that we should sober up when we plan the skills development that we are planning for, and to remind us that as when we do what we do, we be mindful that we do not have the luxury of time, as the majority of people out there are becoming restless. There is no room for mistakes.

“Whatever skills we plan for, South Africans will not take kindly if you gonna plan to train them in skills that will not be beneficial to them, skills that will not change their material conditions, ” said Mr Bonga.

For his full remarks, Click on the video below.

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