Q1 2018 Employment stats don't necessarily mean we're out of the woods

Gugu Mjadu
Statistics South Africa’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey for Quarter 1 of 2018 was released on Tuesday. According to the report, formal employment increased by 56 000 jobs in the first three months of this year. While 56 000 additional jobs looks impressive, Gugu Mjadu, spokesperson for the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, says that we need to remain focused on boosting entrepreneurship as the primary source of job creating for real, sustainable economic change.

“Blanket statistics like this, while encouraging, don’t always paint the full picture in terms of our success and growth areas regarding job creation,” says Mjadu, alluding to the fact that the biggest increase in jobs was in the government sector. “We need to continue to put our energy behind creating a favourable environment for entrepreneurial successes. Unfortunately, many local entrepreneurs remain challenged by a number of common barriers to entry,” says Mjadu.  These include the slow rate of economic growth and transformation, coupled with difficulty of access to funding and development opportunities, which continues to be a career-hampering burden – particularly for young entrepreneurs.

Mjadu says that entrepreneurs need to apply a fresh approach for overcoming these barriers for themselves.  “Entrepreneurs are naturally driven and passionate individuals who are known for ‘taking the bull by the horns’ when it comes to achieving their dreams. For young entrepreneurs to succeed, they need to put this into action more – they should not just accept no as an answer but approach a financier for feedback on how to improve their chances of receiving support.”

She says that the larger, more publicised initiatives by government to address entrepreneurship and youth unemployment, are important, but they cannot be successful without the solution-driven contribution of the entrepreneurial sector itself. “While the private and public sectors must help foster an environment within which young entrepreneurs can thrive, a vital component of addressing these issues lies with young entrepreneurs because of their ability to seek out opportunities amid challenges,” says Mjadu.

Mjadu highlights a lack of access to funding, business networks and basic entrepreneurial training as some of the key issues faced by young entrepreneurs.

In conclusion, Mjadu says that young entrepreneurs need to employ a problem-solving attitude and believe in their entrepreneurial endeavour enough to persevere, in spite of the many problems they may encounter. Where they encounter challenges, they should address the issues facing their businesses head-on and always look to create new opportunities for growth.