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Recovery from Covid-19 must lead to different economy, says City’s Economic Growth Mayoral Committee Member

The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth, Alderman James Vos set down in his address to the first full Council of the year, his goal in simple words: ‘The recovery from the COVID-19 crisis must lead to a different economy.’

The Council met to discuss the City’s adjusted budget announced by Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

Responding to the budget, Alderman Vos said it demonstrated ‘our deep desire to get the basics right and build on our economic manifesto’.

According to Alderman Vos, this means giving small businesses the tools to get off the ground and scale up their operations, and expanding on the workforce development programmes through which thousands of Capetonians have access to job and training opportunities.

‘This is about building from the ground up. Just this past week I announced free training programmes and other assistance initiatives to maintain and grow the City’s connection with and support for the small businesses and entrepreneurs who employ Capetonians, drive innovation, and build our economy.’

These include the Supplier Development Programmes run by the City’s Business Hub. The city’s informal traders, the sectoral management of which now falls under Alderman Vos’s directorate, also fall under the banner of small businesses in need of support, he said.

‘I’ve already begun engagements with trading association stakeholders about achieving trading pipelines and tools of the trade.

‘The healthy development of the informal sector is one of our biggest priorities and is a feature of the Inclusive Economic Growth Strategy, which was recently adopted by the Council.’

The strategy is a detailed action plan for growing the metro’s economy through programmes that extend opportunities to communities across Cape Town. Shining the spotlight on these initiatives has also already begun, Alderman Vos said.

‘My officials and I have already had discussions with several of our strategic business partners, including with bodies such as Wesgro, about the interconnected goals of attracting investments, boosting exports and enhancing connectivity.’

Alderman Vos highlighted the positive outcomes of the December tourism figures with the average number of daily passengers at Cape Town International Airport climbing to 20 339 per day by the end of the month.

‘This underscores the value of aviation to travel and trade in the metro. Every air traveller that lands in Cape Town helps to support our economy and create more jobs.

‘As such, we are prioritising the Air Access Initiative and plans focused on boosting Cape Town’s link to key source markets, which would allow for more global exports of Mother City-made goods. More exports means increased production, which means more jobs and a stronger economy.’

On the topic of employment, Alderman Vos said that preparing Capetonians for future jobs is an ‘obsession’ and noted the success of the Cape Skills and Employment Accelerator Programme, which is funded by the City and the National Skills Fund. The project aims to train or place into jobs up to 3 000 previously unemployed youth and women in some of the city’s high growth sectors, including Business Process Outsourcing (call centres).

‘To date, almost 1400 unemployed and previously disadvantaged individuals have been trained to for call centres and every single one of them has been offered permanent employment upon successful completion of their training. This is against a target of 1 100 people, meaning that the project has over-delivered by almost 30%.’

The call centre industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Cape Town, employing more than 69 000 people with almost 5 500 jobs getting jobs in the last year alone.

‘As the City government we can really be proud of this achievement, it comes as a result of our contribution and partnership,’ said Alderman Vos.

He said that realising the potential of Cape Town’s high growth industries and extending their opportunities to Capetonians who need it most remains one of his biggest goals and through programmes such as Cape Skills, ‘we are achieving that goal.’

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