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Plan for research to promote South Africa’s productivity

Author: UWC and Productivity SA

Productivity SA, an Entity of the Department of Employment and Labour has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the with the University of the Western Cape

(Published 8 May 2020)

Productivity SA, an Entity of the Department of Employment and Labour, whose mandate is to enhance employment growth thereby leading to South Africa's socio-economic development, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the with the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

The MoU is an important step towards collaboration on multidisciplinary research to provide value and expertise in efforts of creating decent employment, enhancing productivity and growing the economy post-Covid-19 and is geared towards identifying much-needed measures to overcome deeply rooted problems in the South African economy. 

“This partnership occurs against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has negatively impacted workers, Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), millions of South Africans without quality work as well as the unemployed” says the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Productivity SA, Mr. Mothunye Mothiba.

The parties have agreed to focus on creation of decent work (productive enterprising activities) which also encompasses a value creating activities and income, in addition to conventional job creation. This implies a multi-disciplinary research programme, which is split into specific dedicated projects to deal with different components. Each research project will include an analysis of what has been done in the past, what has worked and why certain measures that were taken to address the problems have not been successful.

While we are faced with a devastating health crisis, with the unemployment rate predicted to hit 50%, this partnership cannot be a short-term programme, since the issues are complex, and outcomes will need to be evaluated to determine further priorities, so we look forward to the successful implementation of this MoU”, says Mothiba.  

The research will be both empirical and applied in nature and it is envisaged as a phased programme producing interim recommendations for implementation and assessment within different sectors of the economy.  Prof. Darcy Du Toit, Coordinator in the niche area of Labour Law in the Fourth Industrial Revolution at UWC says: “The research will centre on four themes, which are productivity and decent work, especially in SMMEs, which will deal with competitiveness and best practices in the era of innovation and rapid change, linked to strengthening emerging enterprises’ business efficiency, economic performance and readiness to adopt value-adding technologies”.

The second theme will entail promoting decent work and productivity in the informal economy. According to Prof Du Toit, social dialogue processes and organisational structures have failed to represent the needs of those outside the formal economy. Until these needs are addressed, it remains unlikely that decent work imperatives will be attained, hence the significance of this theme.

Thirdly, youth unemployment challenges will be addressed and initiatives that target youth, turning their energy and desire for self-improvement into a driving force to reduce youth unemployment as well as creating decent work opportunities all round will be proposed.

Fourthly, labour market segmentation and transformative labour regulation will receive focus. “The informal labour market is characterised by low productivity, low wages, unstable employment, little opportunity for advancement. It is thus crucial that labour market regulation be developed in such a way decent work opportunities and productivity can be optimised throughout the economy as a whole”, says Prof Du Toit.  

Although the parties have signed a Statement of Intent as well as the MoU, a formal launch of this partnership will be held in due course when more elaborate discussion and information will be shared on the research specifics, which have been articulated in the Statement of Intent.

“At UWC, we are very excited about this partnership which is closely aligned to our mandate as an institution of higher learning to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in keeping with international standards of academic quality. We look forward to the formal launch and the operationalisation of both the Statement of Intent and the MoU”, concludes Prof Du Toit.


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