Depending on who you talk to, last week’s presidential jobs summit presented an opportunity for critical reflection and action on SA’s jobs challenge, or it was just another talk-shop, with ideas, agreements and commitments made in a vacuum with little prospect of subsequent action. This view is often combined with an explanation of what approaches, partnerships and co-ordination could result in such “action”, the absence of which, it is often suggested, is what prevents us from getting the jobs our economy has the potential to create. This approach is problematic for a number of reasons. Firstly, it assumes that adequate and systemic reflection on these matters has occurred within and outside the state, and secondly that our policy mix as a nation is sufficient to inform whatever action is deemed necessary. Action on these matters, it is suggested, is the missing element. Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire emphasises the importance of determined reflection and how genu...

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