Why the South African government is totally wrong about their focus on creating jobs

If you want to win an election - promise people jobs.

If you want to win an election - promise people jobs.

If you can convince people that your policies will result in companies feeling compelled to hire huge numbers of workers; you've got the election in the bag. It's a no-brainer!

But the reality is that the job market in South Africa is in no way forecast to grow in the foreseeable future.

In fact, thanks to a stagnant global economy, automation, trade wars, incredibly poor levels of eduction and skills development in the country, African migration, skilled people living longer and a growing population - South Africa's largest employers are adopting strategies to trim down their workforces.

The number of jobs in South Africa is declining - and that trend is set to continue and intensify

And frankly the policies that government have implemented to apparently reverse this trend are not effective at best; harmful if we're honest.

In their obvious strategy to win elections - the ANC-led government has labelled business as the enemy and the primary barrier to employment.

But increasing numbers of jobs are a by-product of an economy where individuals have equal access to opportunities to make a contribution. Jobs are created when businesses [big, small and micro] sell a product which is in demand; for a price premium.

Sell something that is unique and valuable, at a price that stimulates demand from a global marketplace, but also allows you enough margin to continue to improve the product over time by reinvesting in its development as well as new layers of technology...and you are winning. It may sound like a radical over-simplification of the complexity of economics, but the logic is perfectly sound.

What is needed then is a nationwide focus on growing brands.

And when I refer to brands - I'm not talking about our very limited understanding of what a brand is, which in South Africa is usually a thought-pattern of pretty logos, ads, girls in bikinis and golf days.

NO! A brand - according to my own definition - being a conscious design of the perception and reputation of commercial value of a product or service that is a business' greatest asset.

What is needed then is a nationwide focus on growing brands.

A brand is the opposite of a commodity, where the price that you charge for your product is determined by the market.

If you have a great brand as a business asset, the effort that you put into your value-added processing means that you can then determine your own selling price.

In business and economics - nothing is more powerful than a great brand.

Companies like Apple, Google, Nike, Coca Cola, Lululemon, 3M and Patagonia sell their products around the world for a premium and when economic disasters like the 2008 financial crisis hit - they bounce back far quicker than companies with weaker brands.

How to design and build great brands should be taught at schools; it should be a primary focus by government - there should be free courses and national awards and support.

If you want to grow the economy and cultivate the conditions under which more employment opportunities will be created; focus and promote the building of great brands.

Talking about jobs is a total waste of time and is an exercise in trying to solve the wrong problem. The more we focus on this nonsense the more we get distracted from dealing with the real opportunity.