Every year, we celebrate Workers Day at the start of May.

Workers’ Day in South Africa holds its own cultural significance, as the public holiday has come to signify the sacrifices made on the long road toward fair employment standards.

The holiday serves both as a celebration of workers’ rights and as a reminder of the critical role that trade unions and other labour organisations played in the fight against Apartheid.

This year’s Workers’ Day comes at a time when we’re also recovering from the impact of COVID-19 on individual workers and businesses. Out of this, we are pleased to share a few highlights from our Enterprise Development and Support programmes.

BTW, do you know about BTR & CIS

The Business Turnaround & Recovery Programme (BTR) and Competitiveness Improvement Services (CIS) focus on creating an enabling environment that is conducive to long-term competitiveness and sustained inclusive growth.

These interventions revealed that South Africa has a productivity growth challenge, coupled with high levels of informality. Over 65% of the 2.3 million SMEs in the country are informal businesses and primarily operate in the poor and rural provinces.

Our economic growth and unemployment challenges confirm South Africa needs to reinforce and drive a productivity growth agenda. This should be led across various sectors and at all levels (national/macro, sector/industry and micro/enterprise).

SMMEs are the backbone and drivers of economic growth and development. They account for most businesses and have the potential to promote domestic-driven growth of new and existing industries. They strengthen the resilience of the economy in a competitive and challenging environment.

SMMEs are more likely to hire from traditionally economically marginalised groups with lower chances of finding employment, such as youths, women, older workers, and less-skilled workers.

SMMEs have also been credited with democratising the labour market and driving more inclusive economic growth by creating employment opportunities for these marginalised groups.

Highlights of our achievements in 2021

Through the Business Turnaround and Recovery Programme, we were able to:

  • Intervene in 83 companies
  • Saved 7,697 jobs
  • Trained and capacitated 777 members of the Future Forums (comprising management and workers) in the respective distressed entities.

With the Competitiveness Improvement Services (including the Workplace Challenge Programme, funded by the dtic), we continued to enhance the appropriate capacities and improved value chain efficiencies of SMMEs and cooperatives. This helped them adopt world-class productivity best practices focused on products, processes, and people.

  • We implemented our interventions in 1,546 SMMEs and other enterprises, including cooperatives.
  • 101 of the enterprises have been supported through the Workplace Challenge Programme.
  • Of the 101 enterprises supported:
    • 25% were youth-owned enterprises
    • 51% were women-owned
    • 79% were Black-owned businesses
  • 2,849 entrepreneurs, workers and managers were capacitated to promote the culture of productivity.
  • 621 Productivity Champions were capacitated to build awareness and promote a stronger culture of productivity and accountability at an enterprise level and in South Africa.

To promote youth employment, we are implementing the Itukise Project (a graduate placement programme) in collaboration with the dtic and the National Skills Fund.

  • 1200 interns (targeting industrial engineering graduates) were placed in the companies where we are implementing the WPC Programme.
  • 100 interns were placed in permanent employment positions after completion of the programme.

Our future goal is to improve our capability to provide productivity-related research and statistics. This is critical for the country and individual enterprises to expect and prepare for the future of work and meet the needs of the future economy and society.

By measuring and evaluating the productivity & competitiveness of the economy, and disseminating value-added data, we can inform evidence-based planning and the impact of programmes.

It will help workers of South Africa have equal opportunities and grow the country’s recovering economy.

If you’d like to learn more about Productivity SA and what we can do to help you improve productivity in your business, give us a call.