Friday, February 22, 2013

Jobs accord ‘way to go’ to address youth unemployment — ILO

A JOBS accord expected to be signed by social partners later this month to help address youth unemployment is "the way to go", International Labour Organisation (ILO) SA director Vic van Vuuren said on Wednesday, adding that its success would depend entirely on its implementation.
President Jacob Zuma said in his state of the nation address last week that he had asked business, labour and civil society to discuss youth employment incentives last year. He said the parties had concluded discussions and would now sign an accord.

Although details are yet to be revealed, it is understood that companies and unions have found common ground on striking a balance between hiring the youth and not having to reduce the number of older workers. Youth make up a large number of the 4.5-million unemployed in South Africa.
"I am extremely hopeful about the accord. I am optimistic. But we have to go beyond just signing it," Mr van Vuuren said.
"We have the leadership but we need someone specific to drive it to implementation. It cannot be signed and (then) we forget about it," he said.
While Mr Zuma has requested all social partners to come to the table regarding job creation, most of his pleas were aimed more at the private sector.
But surveys into businesses’ plans are not pointing to increased business activity — including expanding workforces.
Many of the business leaders polled in a Grant Thornton survey released this week said they were delaying important decisions, while some indicated that they were considering investing in what they referred to as a more stable country. All of them identified policy uncertainty as the main reason.
"The outlook for jobs is not very good and the reason is because we have already seen over the past year a fairly significant deterioration in the employment intensity of the country," said Econometrix chief economist Azar Jammine.
"Wages of lower-paid workers have been forced to rise substantially, so employers have felt inclined to lay off workers in order to be able to afford to raise the salaries of workers."

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