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SA Should Actively Seek To Attract Skilled Immigrants, Manufacturing Leader Argues

24 Nov 2012


Immigration News

 

South Africa should embrace skilled immigrants and should be actively campaigning to attract talent from those economies that are currently struggling, Manufacturing Circle chairperson Stewart Jennings argues.

“Part of the success of South African manufacturing in the 1960s was that British tradesmen brought manufacturing skills with them. We should attract skilled immigrants from all over the world, including Eastern Europe and Europe,” he says.

The South African motor manufacturing sector is a beacon for other manufacturing sectors on how the alignment of government with the private sector, aimed at manufacturing for international markets, can lead to successful manufacturing that increases investment in the sector and transfers skills, he says.

The manufacturing sector had the highest growth in unemployment, shedding 280 000 jobs and with 440 000 small and medium-sized businesses having closed during the past five years. It also has the oldest workforce by sector, necessitating an influx, transfer and growth of skills.

“The past three to four years have not been good for manufacturing, with many in the industry fighting to survive. Government understands that investments in infrastructure, skills development and small and medium-sized enterprise growth need to be made.

“Further, the private sector is critical in this fight to support local products and manufacturing. It should invest in the incubation of local manufacturing ventures and must support entrepreneurs in the sector,” says Jennings.

There also needs to be a significant moderation of administered prices, including the electricity price, because South African prices have risen to become the most expensive, compared with other countries, including India, Brazil and Russia.

Brazil, in particular, is showing the positive effects of sustained support for manufacturing and business development, he states.

“Manufacturing in South Africa has been the laggard, with a key issue being the extreme pressure placed on margins, which has compounded the unemployment situation,” Jennings says.

“We have the lowest gross domestic product growth of all African countries and our economic performance is similar to the performance of our national soccer team,” he quips.

Difficult times lie ahead for the sector, but there is much to celebrate, as South African companies have consistently shown that they can produce a wide spectrum of high-quality goods for export into the global market, adds Jennings.

“We should be the hub of Africa, but Dubai is also laying claim to this title. Our currency is too strong and there is acceleration in the number of imports as a result of unfair trade practices, such as the active undervaluation of national currencies to support these countries’ exports. We are losing competitiveness and must increase import tariffs for goods subsidised by national governments or unfair trade practices,” he states.

“We must ‘buy back’ South Africa. We should support local products, reduce our reliance on imports and increase our targets of South African products to increase employment and multiply the creation of small and medium-sized businesses.”

Jennings advocates the support of the manufacturing, agriculture and tourism sectors as the most competitive approach to shoring up job creation, coupled with an increase in exports and production for local consumption.

Source: http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/skills-immigration-needed-for-skills-transfer-2012-11-23


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