TO MY MIND

Finweek English Edition - - EDITOR’S NOTE - shaunhar­ris@ya­hoo.com SHAUN HAR­RIS

These are young, tal­ented peo­ple with the first level of skills and a burn­ing am­bi­tion to use them. Most will not be able to. That’s soulde­stroy­ing...

MOST PAR­ENTS LIVE through ma­tric ex­ams with their chil­dren. They wit­ness the long nights, hard work, ten­sion be­fore writ­ing ex­ams. Then the agonising wait for re­sults and, fi­nally... ju­bi­la­tion for many as the hard work pays off and they get the re­sults they were aim­ing for. But now the par­ties are over and for those ma­tric­u­lants who aren’t mov­ing on to ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion, it’s a cold dawn as they face the icy chill of job­less­ness. Fore­casts are fright­en­ing. For ex­am­ple, em­ploy­ment agency Ad­corp es­ti­mates only one in 10 of the 2010 class will find a job. What hap­pens to the rest?

Out­side the rhetoric, Govern­ment isn’t go­ing to cre­ate many jobs. And it shouldn’t be, ei­ther. Rather get the many flac­cid State and pro­vin­cial de­part­ments work­ing prop­erly. That might open up some em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Most large com­pa­nies in the for­mal sec­tor are shed­ding jobs. Some ide­o­logue will prob­a­bly sprout some non­sense about it only be­ing priv­i­leged peo­ple who can pass ma­tric. It’s not: ask the par­ents of some of those ma­tric­u­lants in the town­ships who had to study with­out the ben­e­fit of elec­tric­ity. And there lies the real tragedy. These are young, tal­ented peo­ple with the first level of skills and a burn­ing am­bi­tion to use them. Most will not be able to. That’s soul-de­stroy­ing...

Ad­vice from sea­soned cap­i­tal­ists will be for them to cre­ate their own jobs, be­come en­trepreneurs. That’s a nice ideal. But just how prac­ti­cal is it when even ex­pe­ri­enced en­trepreneurs bat­tle to raise bank fi­nance? Banks in South Africa, like banks in the Western World, en­joy a spe­cial busi­ness sta­tus. Our banks were spared the credit crunch that saw so many banks over­seas bailed out by their gov­ern­ments. But SA’s banks here also have been bailed out: many read­ers will re­mem­ber the Bankorp lifeboat.

But there are two sides to this spe­cial sta­tus, and banks – while re­main­ing a busi­ness with share­hold­ers – need to start fund­ing en­trepreneurs. And re­ally fund­ing them – along with the nec­es­sary risk – rather than rolling out plat­i­tudes and statis­tics. The banks also need to pro­vide more mort­gages to lower in­come peo­ple. A large build­ing con­trac­tor tells me about solid work­ing peo­ple, such as po­lice­men and women, teach­ers and nurses, forced to live in shacks be­cause they can’t get a home loan.

You say you want a revo­lu­tion? In­tel­li­gent young peo­ple with no jobs; hard work­ing peo­ple with no homes. It’s star­ing us in the face.

Marc Hasen­fuss will be back next week.

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