GOVERNMENT and business need to develop and implement attractive skills development projects to lure qualified professionals and keep them in the Eastern Cape.
Speaking at a business breakfast hosted by Old Mutual at Radisson Blu in Port Elizabeth yesterday, manufacturing and financial sector bosses heard how the province was battling a massive brain drain and needed to make itself attractive to young, bright minds.
Statistics SA executive manager Zandisile Nkosiyane said that according to the 2011 Census 1.96 million people had left the Eastern Cape in the last decade for Gauteng.
“The problem is that they are going to the economically active provinces such as Gauteng. We train people here, but we don’t have ways to keep these skills.”
The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s director of trade and investment, Anele Qaba, said projects or initiatives needed to be implemented as the only way to retain graduates and skilled people.
The director of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Business School, Professor Steve Burgess, agreed there was an urgent need to create jobs in order to move from the situation where Nelson Mandela Bay and the province were subsidising Gauteng and the Western Cape with skilled people.
Nkosiyane presented the census data to the business group, saying it was a snapshot of how the country looked.
“In the Eastern Cape, there is a lot of migration. A lot of people leave the province to seek jobs in other provinces.
“The province is still not economically active and is supported by two metros.”
He said Nelson Mandela Bay seemed to be doing well thanks to the manufacturing sector, which was the pillar of its economy.
Nkosiyane said, however, the city was standing at an unemployment rate of 36.6% from the 46.4% in 2001.
He said the formal sector was doing fairly well, with assistance from larger developments such as the Coega industrial development zone.
“We are still standing low in the informal sector. We need to see that they [workers] are trained to take it forward.”
Qaba said: “This province had been a bigger base for migrants that have left the province to work on mines. This for me is quite an issue.
“It calls for a clear economic development strategy.”
Qaba made an example of the Bay TV initiative which employs more than 30 graduates. He said the metro municipalitywanted to boost the creative industry and implemented such a project.
“We stand a much better chance that these people will come back and work in the metro.”
Burgess said there was an urgent need to create employment.
“We are cross-subsidising Gauteng and the Western Cape. This is happening because we are not creating employment.”
He said there were several good initiatives that were planned to create jobs such as Project Mthombo, PetroSA’s planned crude oil refinery at Coega.
“We need to move and implement now. We need to think of new ways to create employment,” Burgess said.