"During 2011, a total of 365 000 people were employed. This is the country's best performance since the recession of 2008," Zuma explained. Yet we are not out of the woods and still face the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
"We applaud the government on the realistic representation of the current state of the country, as well as the attainable goals set for the year ahead," says Kay Vittee, CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions. "We also hope that all South African businesses will take up the mantle of making this vision of combating unemployment and inequality a reality."
Educating our youth
"As the President rightly pointed out, many youth suffer at the hands of unemployment which is due to their lack of skills and experience required for many jobs. Therefore we, as businesses, need to equip them with the necessary proficiencies that they will need not only to become employed, but to ensure job security for the future.
"For example, we have found that a large portion of unemployed youth lack basic computer skills," says Vittee. To remedy this, e-learning tutorials are a viable option.
While Vittee states that it is vital to equip today's youth with essential skills, it is as important to create opportunities for experience. "For this reason, a number of recruitment companies offer effective training solutions which expose job seekers to the working environment, thus enabling them to practice and apply skills and gain valuable experience." Look out for vocationally based learning programmes.
"Moreover, if businesses were to relax experience as a critical requirement, they would create greater job access to unemployed youth and make a difference in their lives by allowing them to gain valuable professional and life experience with in-house learnerships," suggests Vittee. "This, coupled with the government's plans for improvements in infrastructure, which will create more jobs, will see a drastic improvement in the employment rate."
Furthermore, as President Zuma stated, inequality in business still plagues South Africa. "The President said that 'Government alone cannot solve the challenges faced by the country, but working together, solutions are possible.'"
"Leading white collar recruitment companies need to take into account that we play an active economic and social role and are a critical intermediary between the unemployed and corporate South Africa and thus, are instrumental in assisting in bringing about more employment opportunities, as well as making South Africans more employable," encourages Vittee.
"Through the collective efforts of government and business we can, as the State of the Nation address explains, 'begin to write a new story about South Africa - the story of how, working together, we drove back unemployment and reduced economic inequality and poverty,'" concludes Vittee.
Here's a breakdown of the structure of the Budget Speech.