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Kouga-Express
Business centre wants to bridge skills gap

THE unemployment rate in South Africa rose to 27.6% in the first quarter of 2019, from 27.1% in the previous period, which is the highest jobless rate since the third quarter of 2017, as the number of unemployed people went up by 62 000 to 6.20 million and employment fell by 237 000 to 16.29 million.

A look at the trends in unemployment by province over the last 10 years shows that two provinces, the Free State and the Eastern Cape, have consistently had the highest unemployment rates.

According to figures released by Statistics South Africa, the Eastern Cape recorded the highest official unemployment rate at 37.4%, this excludes discouraged job seekers.

Komani alone is also battling with high figures of unemployed youth.

Although it is usually said that under normal circumstances, it’s businesses that are supposed to create employment, the Mlungisi Business Centre – an institution that houses 14 SMMEs – says it is struggling to even make a dent in unemployment in the area because most jobseekers are unemployable.

The centre was handed over for use to the entrepreneurs by the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality in 2017 after it had burned down.

Chairperson of the Mlungisi Business Centre, Xolile Mandaba, attributed youth unemployment in the area to lack of skilled jobseekers.

“On every corner we hear people talking about unemployment and the failure by businesses to create jobs.

“But the truth of the matter is that it is difficult to provide sustainable jobs to unskilled people.

“People come to work at the centre for one to two weeks and never come back because they don’t have the necessary skills. Others are raw from institutions of learning but can’t even handle tools,” he said.

Mandaba said they were now looking to partner with institutions of learning and assist learners with their apprenticeships.

“We can bridge the gap as far as shortage of skills is concerned because we operate professionally.

“And the services we are offering here are offered at colleges, but learners are never exposed to the work environment, which is why we have unemployable youth today,” he said.

Businesses at the centre offer a range of services like steel, glass and woodwork, motor mechanics, hairdressing and plumbing, to name a few.

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