Picture: SOWETAN
Picture: SOWETAN

My recent articles have so far generated three letters (Millions of unemployed youths need sweeping structural transformation, August 17, and Jobs plan should make large cities opportunity centres for more people, September 1).

Ivan Turok says I am dismissive of smaller cities and towns (Omissions in jobs plan, September 5). The Centre for Development and Enterprise’s (CDE’s) report looking at cities, towns and townships argues that SA should focus investment and economic strategies in areas with economic potential. Economic growth will always be unbalanced. Some places have more economic potential and will grow faster than others. Trying to spread growth more evenly leads to policies that "fight prosperity rather than poverty".

Adam Cracker essentially supports our position (Start joint action for jobs, September 4). The right relationship between state and business could drive much higher employment and growth rates and lead to sustainable transformation and inclusion for millions. SA needs a capable state that understands markets to enable business to deliver. Government cannot be pro-growth and antibusiness. SA needs accelerated growth and employment: this will require urban-led growth that is private sector driven, enabled by a smart state and targeted at mass employment.

Sydney Kaye says I offer no real solution (Business is an ally, August 18). This is the CDE’s agenda for action: SA needs faster growth, lots more firms, millions more jobs. We need to reduce the costs of employment for young people. We have to encourage investment that creates jobs for the workforce we have, not the highly skilled one we wish we had.

This requires labour market reforms and other actions to attract the factories that Ethiopia is showing will come to Africa.

The government should support urbanisation and flood poor areas with improved schools and work-relevant training. Growth and jobs need to trump all other priorities. The bottom line is SA needs a new kind of economy that’s fast growing, more labour intensive and more open to new firms and innovation.

Jobs can transform millions of young people’s lives. We should all work to make youth unemployment a top issue for the next general election and push political parties beyond slogans to realistic proposals that create millions of new jobs.

Ann BernsteinHead, CDE

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