Can South Africa’s manufacturing sector create a million jobs by 2027 amidst a stagnant economy and the much-anticipated fourth industrial revolution, which is likely to result in further mechanization within the sector and a possible influx of imported goods from China as it seeks new markets following the current trade war with the US?
This question will take centre stage at the 2018 Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba, which will take place at the IDC Conference Centre in Sandton on 20-21 September. Deliberating on this question and suggesting ways to make a million jobs target achievable will be Manufacturing Circle CEO Philippa Rodseth, SEIFSA Chief Economist Michael Ade, Highveld Structural Mill CEO Johan Burger and Department of Economic Development Deputy Director-General Zeph Nhleko.
Last year, the Manufacturing Circle launched its Map to A Million New Jobs in a Decade plan, with the organization’s chairman André de Ruyter saying at the time: “If manufacturing can expand to 30% of GDP, between 800 000 and 1.1 million direct jobs can be created, with 5 to 8 times that number in indirect jobs,” he added. “Our Map to a Million puts forward detailed proposals to deliver a million jobs in manufacturing in the next decade.”
In the past two decades, the manufacturing sector has shed half a million jobs. At just under 13%, it contributes less than half to GDP than is appropriate for South Africa’s stage of development.
“The Map to a million is an initiative we strongly support as a Federation representing companies operating in the metals and engineering cluster, which forms part of the broader manufacturing sector. We believe that, similar to mining and agriculture sectors, manufacturing is one of the backbones of South Africa’s economy. We are of the view that it is of paramount importance that South Africa reindustrializes and restores its manufacturing sector to its former glory, in the interest of economic growth and employment creation.
“It is, therefore, against this backdrop that we felt it was important to use the platform provided by the Indaba to critically review the initiative and find ways of ensuring that it succeeds,” SEIFSA Chief Executive Officer Kaizer Nyatsumba said.