Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde said in his Budget Statement on Friday that the Department received a total of R433.46 million for the 2018/2019 financial year. These funds will be used to robustly drive job creation and promote skills development.
Winde presented the Department of Economic Development and Tourism’s (DEDAT) budget speech.
The Minister noted that according to Stats SA's latest findings, the Western Cape has the lowest unemployment rate in the country which at 19.5 percent is 7.2 percentage points lower than the national average.
Significantly, business confidence has also increased from 35 index points in December to 50 points in March, according to the latest Bureau for Economic Research data released. Winde said that based on this, there is a lot to be confident about. "The Western Cape remains open for business and there is a lot to be confident about in our economy", said Winde.
Minister Winde said that he will continue to bolster job creation and confront unemployment with various projects outlined for the 2018/2019 financial year.
Work readiness programmes will be a core focus which will receive a capital injection of R3 million. "Our work readiness programmes will be receiving a R3 million boost as we implement a new approach that links employers, SETAs, and our funding for a customised work readiness programme which can accommodate 300 young people over the next year", said Winde.
Winde said he aims to place at least 13 221 young people in apprenticeships programmes by March next year. In achieving this, the Department is working on making it easier for businesses to take on apprentices, he said. "Our Red Tape call centre is on hand to take queries from interested businesses. Any employer that receives a learner grant from a SETA in 2018 should contact the unit to see how best to get apprentices on board", said Winde.
Winde said that in the past, DEDAT has assisted 2000 small businesses in the province by providing financial and non-financial support. A similar venture will be rolled out later this year which will see the conversion of two spaza shops into independently owned supermarkets in partnership with Pick ‘n Pay.
The Minister said that the fourth industrial revolution is upon us and we need to be well equipped and interconnected. Therefore, DEDAT has set aside R2.5 million to drive a initiative where educators, the business sector and local start-ups can commercialise their products.
DEDAT will also be launching an online toolkit this year which will enable smme's to access digital resources in order to effectively grow their businesses.
The Western Cape government also hopes to roll out a similar digital project like the I-CAN Play programme which has offered digital skills training, free courses and free wi-fi to over 34 000 people. Notably, a second site of the I-CAN Play programme will be launched this year which will furthermore train more individuals essential digital skills.
"This budget will help create opportunities for the residents of the Western Cape to thrive through the development of new skills, the creation of new jobs and by opening up new entrepreneurship ventures", said Winde.