There’s nothing like a rousing speech from the president to get everyone fired up. That’s unless your president is openly admitting that the country is on course for a dramatic loss of jobs in the coming years. Cyril Ramaphosa made the frank admission during the 25 years of democracy celebrations at the University of Johannesburg.

His keynote speech was grounded in realism, and despite revelling in South Africa’s democratic achievements, Ramaphosa forecast a bleak future in an already-depleted jobs market.

“Many more people are going to lose jobs. In the end, and despite significant economic progress in the years leading to the global financial crisis, unemployment has increased over the last decade, poverty levels have begun to rise again and millions remain excluded through lack of assets, skills and networks.”

Cyril Ramaphosa on the challenges facing the jobs market

Cyril Ramaphosa explains the biggest challenges to employment

In almost 18 months as South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa has made job creation one of his main focuses. He has deployed the Youth Employment Service and held multiple summits on the issue. However, it seems the strength of the tide is dragging the administration back out to sea. Cyril has pinpointed four major obstacles:

  • Technology: As our tech-knowledge increases, more jobs will be automated, limiting the need for human input.
  • Globalisation: South African trades are struggling to compete with cheaper foreign markets.
  • Climate change: As we’ve seen with recent droughts, extreme weather events are crippling our agricultural industry.
  • Low economic growth: Mzansi, with its failing SOEs and history of corruption, has been its own worst enemy.

How can we fix these problems?

It’s not all doom and gloom coming from Cyril Ramaphosa, however. The head of state did tell his audience there was a way to circumvent these threats. He’s suggested that a skills revolution needs to take place in South Africa, where more young people are taught trades and given relevant training on jobs that need proper manning:

“In many ways, we are a traumatised nation. Fewer people are learning a trade: We need boiler-makers, we need artisans and most importantly, we need people to drive this economy. We need to lay emphasis on making sure that the skills revolution gains more traction in South Africa.”

Cyril Ramaphosa at the University of Johannesburg

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