DA Western Cape Member of Provincial Legislature
Extract from speech on the Debate on the State of the Province Address
The biggest critique from opposition parties to the Premier’s State of the Province speech is that the focus is anti-poor, and that the needs and the wants of the poor have not been taken into consideration by the Premier. To address poverty, a more transversal and multi-faceted approach is needed-an approach that focusses on the public-private partnership to ensure a future for all in the Western Cape, being created through the “Better Together” approach.
One of the ways to address this is the focus on the creation of economic opportunities and enabling communities and individuals to access these opportunities. An issue that must be understood is that government cannot provide and address all the issues surrounding poverty. As the Premier outlined in her speech, creating the opportunities for jobs, and addressing skills development is one of the key areas of this Government.
The development of skills is extremely important in strategies to address poverty.
The Democratic Alliance welcomes the establishment of the Economic Development Partnership. Apart from the fact that all stakeholders in the economy will develop and implement a shared agenda for economic growth, it is also this strategy and vision that will ensure that the focus will shift in order to address and redress the skills shortages in certain sectors, and that this partnership would be able to highlight the ways to address these shortcomings and ensure the vision of “Better Together” is not only a concept but a sustainable and successful strategy. Sustainability is one of the key components to ensure the development and growth of an economy over time, and with it the development of skills and the access to opportunities to self-empowerment.
Training interventions and programmes are intended to alleviate skills shortages in the economy. They are aimed at enhancing productivity and employability of participants and enhancing the human capital through improving skills, especially for young job-seekers.
Thus, as said, the struggle against poverty requires not just the involvement of government but also of business, non-governmental organisations and others. The support can take on various forms, such as mentoring new businesses or community organisations, volunteering in poor communities and assisting organisations and individuals. The belief is that a high-level partnership comprising all the stake holders can monitor and implement the program, and also address the problems when they arise.
Apart from economic growth, skills development is the other key area that focusses on addressing poverty. But skills development cannot be addressed without the focus on education, rural development, health care, promoting social cohesion and improving social capital. Skills development must also happen in a way that helps to address the shortage of skills as identified in the Province, as well as to encourage learners and people to focus on scarce and dying skills such as in the areas of tailoring and boat building. Again, the importance of partnerships is stressed in order for the skills shortages in certain industries to be addressed.
One important aspect is that strategies and programmes that link increasing economic opportunities for everyone in the Western Cape must also be environmentally sustainable. The protection and rehabilitation of ecosystems, reversing environmental degradation and promoting ecotourism can all help to achieve the sustainable economic growth and sustainable skills development. When considering the Premier’s speech, all these facets are highlighted as part of the strategy to address poverty in the Western Cape, so as to assist the fight against poverty on all levels.
Non-government trainers are also significant in the fight against poverty. Building this capacity brings new private investment into training, broadens access and reduces the pressure on public spending for skills development. Non-government trainers are also noted for their lower costs, close linkages to the labour market and the attention to female enrolments. Enough evidence exist to support that these partnerships serve a valuable role in reaching the vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. One area of concern is the sustainability of such a programme but that is why the partnership must be carefully negotiated and agreed to.
Thus, it is encouraging to hear the Western Cape Government’s commitment to the process to increase the number of skilled people in the province. It is also important to understand and support that the current skills shortage in the Province and South Africa cannot be addressed if we do not provide every child in the Province and the country with quality basic education.
Education and training must help the unemployed, under-employed and the youth at risk to move from being unskilled or redundant in one kind of economy to contribute productively to a new economy.
The Democratic Alliance supports the Provincial Government approach of public-private partnerships in addressing the complex dimensions of poverty. If public and private spending is linked, this can leverage existing resources and help to enhance efficiencies. It also helps to stretch the limited resources. It is also supportive of the fact that an educated and more highly skilled workforce is the long-term priority for the economy of the Western Cape and that of South Africa. Working “Better Together” by way of public-private partnerships and the Economic Development Partnership, the Western Cape Government is on its way to ensure that poverty is addressed and more people have access to economic opportunities.