Photo credit: Facebook Page of the Chinese Embassy in South Africa
More than 100 Chinese companies have committed to offering 20 000 jobs to South Africans in the next three years. The Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Ambassador Chen Xiaodong, said in a keynote address that he gave last Thursday at the 2022 Job Fair of Chinese-invested Enterprises in South Africa, which was held in Johannesburg. He added that these opportunities cover different sectors, including infrastructure, communications, mining, automobile, and agriculture.
Organized by the South Africa-China Economy and Trade Association (SACETA), the Job Fair of Chinese-invested Enterprises in South Africa is an annual event aimed at creating employment opportunities for South Africans. According to a report by the Chinese Embassy in South Africa, nearly 1300 people participated in this year’s fair among which were local students and job seekers. The participating Chinese companies were expected to offer 1000 jobs to local applicants during the event, local media reported.
Job creation, however, is only one of many means that China and South Africa plan to work on to boost employment in the African country. Some measures have also been implemented to develop the South African human capital. “China is ready to speed up the building of vocational training center projects. We are ready to provide employment assistance programs for college graduates and other special groups. We will also encourage Chinese enterprises to cultivate more competent professionals through the transfer of technology and skills training for local employees,” Ambassador Chen said.
Reducing unemployment in South Africa
Currently, unemployment is one of the main issues of concern among South Africans. Indeed, according to data released by Statistics South Africa last month, the unemployment rate in South Africa reached a record high of 35.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021, one of the world’s highest. South African officials have therefore welcomed Chinese companies’ commitment to hiring more South Africans. “On behalf of our government, I wish to express our gratitude to the people of China for this important gesture which will undoubtedly contribute to our efforts to reduce the current 35.3 percent unemployment rate,” South African Employment and Labor Minister, Thulas Nxesi, said during the event.
According to Ambassador Chen, Chinese companies’ investments in South Africa have so far significantly benefitted South Africa’s job market. “South Africa is also one of the largest investment destinations for Chinese companies in Africa. By the end of 2021, China’s investment in South Africa totaled over 25 billion US dollars, which created over 400,000 local jobs,” he said.
Providing more opportunities for South African workers in Chinese companies
Chinese companies, however, have often been criticized for not hiring enough local employees in Africa in general and South Africa in particular. Earlier this year, several media reports discussed a court action that the South African government started against Huawei’s local subsidiary for not complying with the country’s employment policies. Such policies require that not more than 40 percent of the total employees of a company be foreign workers. Yet, foreign workers made up 90 percent of the total employees of Huawei’s local unit. The Chinese tech giant then announced that it would increase its local hires and ensure South Africans make up 50 percent of its staff by 2025.
In his address, Ambassador Chen pointed out that Huawei was among the 100 companies that pledged to provide more jobs to locals and is expected to offer 450 jobs to South Africans in the next three years. He also highlighted Chinese companies’ commitment to fulfilling their social responsibilities and following local laws and regulations.