SA-China job fair a response to unemployment

In what Employment and Labor Minister Thulas Nxesi described as a response to high unemployment in South Africa, a large crowd of unemployed youth flocked to Gallagher Estate on Thursday during the SA-China Economy and Trade Association ( SACETA) of 2022, to complete forms that could see 1,000 employed by Chinese companies invested locally.

Over 100 SA-based Chinese enterprises have pledged to provide 20,000 direct jobs to locals over the next three years, covering areas such as infrastructure, communications, mining, automobiles and agriculture, with Huawei providing 450 jobs and Pengxin to offer 3,500 jobs.

Nxesi praised the SA-SACETA job fair for “reaching a milestone”.

“The Chinese government and companies know that job creation is at the heart of our agenda.

“On behalf of our government, I would like to express gratitude for this gesture, which will undoubtedly contribute to our efforts to reduce the unemployment rate by 35.3%.

“We understand that if we don’t address the issue of youth unemployment, there will be a serious social crisis,” said Nxesi.

READ ALSO: The SA-China job fair promises thousands of jobs for unemployed youth

Urging Chinese companies to partner with their South African counterparts in creating the much-needed jobs, Nxesi said the collaboration would ensure that Chinese companies “have a chance to improve the skills of the locals.”

“We are expected to step up our efforts and create partnerships to reverse the global job loss caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“All social partners should work together to develop concrete programs that will contribute to economic growth and employment,” said Nxesi.

He added: “These challenges often require quick and direct action to avoid disasters in society. We understand that the task may be too high to handle on your own.

“So, we must rely on friendships and political alliances to build a functioning economy that can benefit our citizens by creating sustainable industries and jobs.”

A group of young people who arrived early at the Gallagher estate to attend the SA-China job fair. Image: Brian Sokutu

The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to South Africa, Chen Xiaodong, told the packed rally how the initiative, aimed at growing the economies of both countries, will result in “a victory for all”.

Xiaodong said: “President Cyril Ramaphosa attaches great importance to work. He always makes job creation a government priority, having actively launched an employment stimulus plan.

“At the same time, Chinese companies in South Africa are working hard to stabilize production and supply chains.

“Last month, over a hundred Chinese companies attended the fourth investment conference in South Africa and secured a fair amount of investment deals.

“President Xi Jinping and President Ramaphosa had a telephone conversation last month and reached important agreements on bilateral cooperation.

READ MORE: What is the solution to South Africa’s youth unemployment problem?

“Today’s job fair is a concrete initiative and effort to implement those agreements.

“This event aims to achieve win-win results by creating jobs for South Africans, while also providing an opportunity for Chinese companies to hire local talent and pursue localized development.”

He said the friendship between China and South Africa has brought tangible benefits to both peoples, as China has been SA’s main trading partner for 13 consecutive years.

“Even against Covid, our trade reached over $ 54 billion last year, up more than 50%. South Africa’s exports to China reached over US $ 33 billion, an increase of nearly 60%.

“South Africa is also a major investment destination for Chinese companies in Africa.

“At the end of 2021, China’s investments in South Africa totaled over US $ 25 billion, creating over 400,000 local jobs.

“China is ready to partner with South Africa to link our development strategies and take full advantage of each other’s benefits.

“We are ready to seek mutual benefits and work for higher quality, wider fields and higher standards in our cooperation,” said Xiaodong.

China’s efforts on this front will bring greater opportunities to all countries, including South Africa.

READ MORE: What must Ramaphosa do to solve SA’s high unemployment rate

China was the main driver of global growth, with its gross domestic product last year reaching US $ 17.7 trillion, up 8.1%.

“With over 1.4 billion people and over 400 million people in the middle income bracket, China is a huge market that imports about $ 2.5 trillion worth of goods each year.

“Last year, the fourth China International Import Expo achieved over US $ 70 billion in expected revenue.

“The China-Africa Economic and Trade Fair last year got $ 23 billion in signed contracts,” said Xiaodong.

Speaking also at the job fair, Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Alvin Botes said he wanted to underline the global strategic nature of the South Africa-China partnership, “which goes beyond our political and diplomatic commitments, to economic and social collaboration. , which we have successfully cultivated over the years “.

“This event today demonstrates China’s efforts to support South Africa’s goals of eradicating the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality and is evident in the depth of our partnership.

“Several Chinese companies have invested in South Africa and are creating much needed jobs.

“Today some of these companies will offer 1,000 jobs and have also pledged to create around 19,000 job opportunities over a three-year period for South African youth.

“This will certainly have other spin-offs such as the transfer of skills and competences, particularly in critical sectors such as ICT, mining, clothing, information technology, construction, food processing, energy, retail, logistics, manufacturing and finance. .

“I believe that the Chinese companies and businesses participating in this event have already advertised job opportunities and I hope that many young South Africans will embrace these opportunities offered by the Chinese business community,” said Botes.

He added: “While these jobs are fair and the opportunities offered should be seen as complementary to the South Africa-China strategic partnership, it could be seen as yet another opportunity to enrich the bonds of friendship and understanding that exist among our people, as well. like our cultures.

READ ALSO: 3.9 million unemployed South Africans lose hope of finding work

“Undoubtedly, strengthening these ties will serve to further strengthen the broader relations between our two countries, as well as further consolidate our economic partnership, which will surely contribute to the well-being and upliftment of our people.

“China is South Africa’s largest global trading partner, while South Africa remains China’s largest trading partner in Africa.

“In 1998, at the beginning of our diplomatic relations, total trade between our two countries was around Rand 1 billion.

“However, as our partnership has taken hold, our business relationships have strengthened hand in hand, boasting a total trade of Rand 544 billion in two-way trade in 2021.

Although South Africa’s trade deficit with China decreased by Rand 4 billion in 2021, both countries are continuing to work to address South African concerns regarding the trade imbalance that has been skewed in China’s favor. for several years.

“As China has increasingly opened up its markets to a variety of South African goods and services, more could be done to increase value-added goods on the export list.”

According to Statistics South Africa, the unemployment rate of SA rose to 35.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021, compared to 34.9% in the previous period, the highest unemployment rate since the beginning of comparable data in 2008.