President Cyril Ramaphosa applauds Volvo’s Investment in the South African Economy
President Cyril used the opportunity of the Volvo Group Southern Africa’s Youth Employment Scheme event to thank Volvo for its continuing investment in the South African economy and its commitment in particular to the empowerment and development of our youth.
Youth Employment Initiative is a joint effort by government, labour and business to offer paid work experiences to one million South African youth over the next three years. Volvo is one of those companies who believe that it is not enough to invest in factories, machinery and supply chains.
The YES is motivated by a desire to contribute to building a better South Africa, to be part of the effort to correct the social and economic injustices of our past.
It is rooted in an understanding that business is not separate from society, but inextricably bound to the fortunes of its people, the president stated in his speech today.
As poverty, unemployment and inequality decline, businesses grow. As young people gain skills and work experience, businesses thrive. And as business grow and thrive – and employ more people and pay better wages – so the lives of ordinary people improve. The greatest challenge to social development in South Africa – and to economic development – is the high rate of youth unemployment.
The President applaud Volvo for making youth development such an integral part of its social investment programme.
YES aims to prepare young people for employment and provide them with the technical skills needed to underpin the industrialisation of the economy. There is a collective responsibility to develop the skills of young South Africans and ensure that these skills are suited to the needs of our economy, now and into the future.
This means that the basic education system needs to retain more learners through to matric and to improve the quality of the education they receive.
It means that we need to ensure greater access to universities and colleges for the children of the poor and working class. The phased introduction of free higher education from this year promises to contribute to a skills revolution in this country.
This needs to be accompanied by a concerted effort to involve the private sector in supporting and designing curricula, particularly at TVET colleges and in certain university faculties.
We need to ensure that these institutio ns are producing the kind of skills that are needed in the economy – in a Volvo truck factory, for example – and that students have opportunities to work in these environments during the course of their study.
We all share a responsibility to ensure that young people gain the confidence, capabilities and exposure to succeed in the working environment.
That is why we have prioritised the development of pathways into work for young people.
This includes the Youth Employment Service initiative, which we launched together with our social partners in March.
This initiative, which provides work experience opportunities for young people on a scale never before seen in this country, is the result of effective collaboration between business, government and labour. It demonstrates the willingness of business to be part of finding solutions to youth unemployment.
We call on companies to join the programme, not only to increase the chances of employment for many thousands of young people, but also so that the companies themselves can develop the young workforce that they will need to expand and grow.
The success of our efforts will be judged by the extent to which they create more employment and education opportunities for young people.
During the State of the Nation Address in February, we undertook to build further on the collaboration with business and labour to restore confidence and prevent any further decline in our sovereign rating.
We said this would involve making hard decisions to close our fiscal gap, stabilise our debt and restore our state-owned enterprises to health.
We are working to address the decline over many years of our manufacturing capacity, which has deeply affected employment and exports.
We are working to re-industrialise on a scale and at a pace that draws millions of job seekers into the economy.
That is why we are making a major push this year to encourage significant new investment in our economy.
Culminating in an investment conference in October, we have deployed four special envoys on investment to meet with potential investors, to brief them on the advantages of investing in South Africa, and to alert them to the many diverse opportunities that exist across the economy.
They will be supported by key agencies like Invest SA, which is responsible for promoting and facilitating investment the country.
Through this work we aim to encourage more business people, labour leaders and ordinary South Africans to become investment envoys.
Starting here with the Volvo Group, we want to encourage corporates not only to expand their operations, but also to persuade their counterparts across the world to invest in the South African economy.
Starting here with the Volvo Group, we want to cultivate a huge cohort of investment envoys that understand the economy, that can see the opportunities and that can direct potential investors to where they can find assistance.
Starting here, we want to build an investment movement, which reaches every corner of the country, which permeates every organ of the state and which seeks out every opportunity to mobilise productive investment.
We are concentrating on the types of investment that create employment and which adds value to the natural resources that we have in abundance.
We are concentrating on the types of investment that will contribute to the growth of a diversified economy that is not dependent on the export of raw commodities.
We are concentrating on the types of investment that will create shared value, producing sustainable financial gains for investors and broader benefits for their employees, suppliers, communities and other stakeholders.
The president noted that all of this work requires partnership and collaboration. It requires a society that is working towards a common goal. It requires companies like Volvo, who are committed to their investment in the country, who are keen to expand their operations, who understand their social responsibilities and are working hard to fulfil them. It requires companies like Volvo, who invest in the development of our youth and who champion the needs of our people.
The president concluded his address stating that South Africa is a country with boundless potential. Through working together, with commitment and diligence, I have no doubt that we will succeed in realising that potential.