- MEC urges young people to take up engineering
- FS efforts to revive old factories lauded
Young people in the province have been urged to take up engineering as a subject if they are to march with changes brought about by the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Economic, small business development, tourism and environmental affairs (Destea) MEC Makalo Mohale said there will be increased demand for engineers in the future and it is imperative that young people keep abreast.
Speaking in Botshabelo, 61 kilometres outside of Bloemfontein during a site visit to the area’s industrial park on Tuesday, Mohale said, “At the back of the 4th industrial revolution many jobs will be lost, but many more will be created, so studying towards a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, for instance, has no space in the 4th industrial revolution. The only opportunities that are there will be in engineering fields.”
The MEC indicated a programme was in the pipeline to visit schools in the Free State and motivate learners in taking up engineering as a subject through to higher institutions.
He noted there was also need to attend to the school syllabus that is left behind by technological changes taking place in the country and elsewhere across the globe.
Mohale said the Botshabelo Industrial Park has a proud history of hiring people in large numbers, although he expressed concern that this was no longer the case.
While the occupancy rate at the industrial park is high, the same could not be said about the number of people hired there, he indicated.
He further called on factories operating at the park to make special focus on intensive labour sectors so that they help reverse the high unemployment rate in the province.
“The occupancy rate at the factories is high but in the townships people are still talking about how they wish these factories can be functional so that they can get jobs.”
Mohale was delighted that the low rentals being charged seem to be doing the trick in attracting business. Of the eight factories in neighbouring Thaba-Nchu, four are already occupied.
The deputy minister of trade and industry, Nomalungelo Gina, expressed her satisfaction at the level of economic activity at the Botshabelo Industrial Park, adding government was injecting a lot of funds to ensure that old factories are revitalised throughout the country.
Gina said such factories are important to government’s drive to create jobs, also given that they are close to where the people live.
“I’m excited that I have not heard reports of vandalism of factories here, unlike other places where I’ve been. By the way, Botshabelo has the second biggest industrial park in the country after the one in KwaZulu Natal province,” she noted.
The deputy minister said the first thing that investors focus on before putting their money in an area is security. “I am glad that all of us here see the importance of industrial parks and the catalyst role they play in igniting the economy,” she added.
The chief executive officer of the Free State Development Corporation, Oozy Osman, said the entity is working hard to transform industrial parks into Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in collaboration with the provincial government.
The plan is to amend the SEZ programme so that it is able to incorporate old industrial parks.
Another economic spinner was the creation of a cross stop on the N1 for trucks to exchange loads in the Free State using the province’s centrality and close proximity as a link to neighbouring provinces, including Lesotho.
After the briefing the entourage, which included Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela, embarked on a tour of the factories producing sheet roofs and construction materials. Others are into clothing design and manufacturing.