Keynote address by Honourable Premier RM Mtshweni-Tsipane at the “Job Massification and Enhanced Skills Development Stakeholders Engagement”

01 August 2023

Programme Director;
The Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Mr. Buti Manamela;
The Deputy Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Development, Ms. Swartz;
The MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Ms Nompumelelo Hlophe, and all MECs in our midst;
The Executive Mayor of Ehlanzeni District Municipality, Cllr Jesta Sidell;
Our Host, the Executive Mayor of the City of Mbombela, Cllr Sibongile Makusha- Mazibuko;
Senior Managers of Mpumalanga Provincial Government, led by our Director-General Mr. Makhukhu Mampuru;
Representatives of the banking sector and others from the business community in our province;
Representatives of our partners from the education and skills community, including Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA’s) and Further Education and Training Institutions (FET’s);
Representatives of our provincial entities including the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA), the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA), Mpumalanga Economic Regulator (MER) and last but not least, the Mpumalanga Regional Training Trust (MRTT);
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Good Morning;

  1. Programme Director, it is a pleasure for me to join you all at this important gathering that will develop solutions that will amplify our ability to create sustainable and dignified jobs.

  2. We are grateful to all our partners and stakeholders that have joined us today.

  3. As the previous speakers have indicated, today we wish to showcase and give additional impetus to the Provincial commitment to job creation, skills development and poverty eradication, amongst our people.

  4. We are a caring government that has seen the suffering and heard the cries of many of our people who are victims of the lingering scars of a poorly performing economy.

  5. This is an economy that has not yet fully recovered from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic but was limping for many years also, due to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-9.

  6. Today marks a day where we intend to demonstrate how we are giving effect to commitments made in this year’s State of the Province Address (SOPA) about “job massification” and “partnerships” for the delivery of skills and empowerment for job seekers, particularly the youth.


  8. Programme Director, allow me to be begin by reflecting on the world we find ourselves in, and the nature of the challenge before us all.
  9. This is not in order to drown our distinguished audience with ‘diagnosis’ and try to pretend they do not know the lived reality of people in the Province and elsewhere.

  10. Rather, we respectfully think that a better understanding of trends and developments globally and locally can only sharpen our resolve and determination to find and implement solutions

  11. Ladies and gentlemen, these trends and statistics show that if there was ever a time for us to work harder together, in partnership, to address the scourge of joblessness and lack of opportunities, this is it!

  12. A number of statistics, released in recent days and weeks, show a global picture where things look gloomy although better than many thought, earlier in the year.

  13. The conflict in the Ukraine, geo-political tensions between countries, rising cost of living, bottlenecks in supply chains, and adverse climate weather patterns and eventualities, are all a cause for concern and have meant our world economy will underperform with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growing at 3% compared to 3.5% last year.

  14. Energy insecurity and its manifestation as “power outages” or ‘load shedding”, among other issues, led the same International Monetary Fund (IMF) to predict that South Africa’s economic growth will decline from 1.9% last year to 0.3% this year.

  15. These trends and developments are unfortunate and will worsen things in the labour market worldwide, and in our country and Province in particular.

  16. Based on the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) by Statistics South Africa, Mpumalanga witnessed a worrying surge in the number of unemployed individuals during Quarter 1 2023, reaching a record high of 713 361 individuals or 38.5% of the labour force (using the official rate of unemployment).

  17. According to the latest Provincial Socio-Economic Review and Outlook (March 2023), in 2021, 50.3% or approximately 2.3 million of the Mpumalanga population lived below the lower-bound poverty line of R890 per capita per month.

  18. Youth in the labour market

  19. Our country and our Province continue to face unprecedented levels of youth unemployment.

  20. The unemployment rate for youth of working age (15-34 years) was 52.1%, whereas the unemployment rate of adults (35-64 years) was 27.2%. Notably, the female youth unemployment rate of 61.5% was significantly higher than the male youth unemployment rate of 44.6%.

  21. According to the latest United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Report for our country, “failure to deliver access to quality education and skills development is a significant contributor to youth unemployment”

  22. A provincial response to the challenges of joblessness and lack of opportunities

  23. As a caring government we cannot afford to fold our arms in the face of such challenges.

  24. In his 2022 State Of the Nation Address (SONA), our President, his Excellency Mr. Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa, correctly observed that much of the job creation in our economy will be through the private sector.

  25. However, this needs to be complemented by a government or a public sector that plays its role with short term interventions or temporary jobs and medium term strategies that lay a foundation for a labour absorbing economy through skills development and structural reforms.

  26. Our Provincial government has embarked upon a number of initiatives to create employment opportunities. The Mpumalanga Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan is central to our initiatives to recalibrate the economy and create sustainable employment opportunities in the short to medium term.

  27. Today our focus is on “Job massification and enhanced skills development”.

  28. We are building on our commitment as stated in this year’s SOPA.

  29. Job massification will involve thousands of employment opportunities, amathuba emisebenzi that are being created through infrastructure and social programmes that are implemented by various departments in the Province.

  30. In this financial year alone, we are targeting some 90 000 job opportunities. Together with our Municipalities, we will create strategic partnerships to ensure that our people get the employment opportunities that they desperately need.

  31. We have partnered with various SETAs in diverse trades, such as diesel mechanical engineering, construction, supply chain management, ICT, Infrastructure, local government and hospitality.

  32. We are happy to see representatives of the business sector here and we call upon them to join us in this quest to create work opportunities for our people.

  33. Just like the Chinese proverb, of a journey of a thousand miles, which starts with one step, so are we in Mpumalanga. Today, we mark the beginning of a journey wherein we will jointly make a dent in the scourge of unemployment and joblessness that afflicts our communities.

  34. Programme Director, Mpumalanga has identified Skills development as one of the critical support pillars for the Mpumalanga Economic Growth and Development Path (MEGDP) and its Human Resource Development Strategic Priorities include:
    • Strengthening the education system;
    • Integrating the skills that the Provincial economy require with initiatives and programmes at higher education level;
    • Aligning bursary awards with the required skills to drive the economy;
    • Forging strategic partnerships with significant partners; and
    • Building a capable and efficient public service workforce.

  35. I am happy to see the growing collaboration of our government departments with the SETA’s and Further Education and Training Institutions (FET’s) for the realization of our Provincial priorities.

  36. The signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU’s) between the SETA, FET’s and the Provincial government today is a welcome development and significant milestone in our endeavour to make ‘skills development’ a reality in our province.

  37. It is a statement of commitment that we are making as the Mpumalanga government of: ‘Let us go to work’ – ‘A hi fambeni a ntirhweni’.

  38. Ladies and Gentlemen,

  39. As the world grapples with the impact of rising temperatures and extreme weather events, it is clear that there is a need for urgent action to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

  40. Climate change and the “Just Transition” have been elevated in our Provincial plans for economic growth and development.

  41. This is hardly surprising because we are the hub of coal fired electricity generation in South Africa.

  42. Mpumalanga is home to 11 of our country’s 14 coal power stations that produce more than 80% of electricity for the country.

  43. As the world moves towards reduced carbon emissions, and our country follows suit, we are mindful of the potential negative socio-economic implications for our coal-dependent regions and communities.

  44. I am happy to report on on-going work between our Province, the Presidential Climate Commission, and multilateral development finance institutions, such as the World Bank and African Development Bank.

  45. Together, we are identifying opportunities and the roll-out of skills development initiatives that are aimed at empowering our people, especially the youth, with the skills to participate in the “green economy” and the “renewables industry value chains”.

  46. A new chapter of social partnership for jobs and skills in the province

  47. Programme Director, as I conclude, let me remind our partners and stakeholders of the immense tasks we have ahead of us.

  48. Let us join hands to reduce joblessness and eradicate poverty in our Province.

  49. The time for “point scoring” and focusing on “narrow” sectional interests is over.

  50. If ever there was a time for our young men and women to be ensured access to decent and productive work, this is it!

  51. If ever there was a time for all social partners, particularly government and the private sector to invest in the skilling of our people, especially the youth, for a changing labour market that is more technologically intensive and less coal dependent, this is it.

  52. I thank you.
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