11 June 2015 Volume :3 Issue :28

Lack of Detailed Data on SA firms, UKZN Research Reveals

Lack of Detailed Data on SA firms, UKZN Research Reveals
Dr Myriam Velia.

There is a lack of detailed data on firms in South Africa, according to studies by a School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) research team. 

 Project researcher, Dr Myriam Velia, says the finding was made following a comprehensive survey of establishments in eThekwini completed by staff at the School in 2013/2014. 

Velia, who has a PhD in Economics (International Economics) from the University of Sussex (UK), has been involved in a number of projects while at the School.  

The collaborative project involved the Economic Development Department (EDD), Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), eThekwini Municipality and UKZN.  

‘One can now start looking closely at what is directly reported as constraints to growth and employment by experts in medium and large manufacturing establishments in the Municipality,’ she said.  

Although the survey is large and the data analysis is just being initiated, Velia highlighted elements and some of their implications for policy-makers, particularly those at the local level.   

The data reveal that the top constraints to growth have changed over the last decade. ‘While, unsurprisingly, CEOs or MDs report that their manufacturing establishments are notably affected by sluggish economic growth and high electricity costs, availability of technical/vocational skills is a notable constraint to expansion in 80% of firms,’ said Velia.  

‘A greater supply of skilled workers is reported to be required by the manufacturing firms studied to specifically increase their labour demand.  While the particular issue of insufficient technical/vocational skills has gained notable prominence when compared to the early 2000s - possibly fuelled by the need to improve labour productivity - HIV/AIDS amongst employees and crime and theft at establishments, prominent issues for the firms in the past, have markedly decreased in importance.’   

The survey is yielding a wealth of insights into manufacturing firms in eThekwini, however, some of the results differ markedly from those found a decade ago for the study area, reflecting a better integration of firms into the global context and new challenges.   

The data also offer hints, at this stage, of firms shifting to a more capital intensive production base.  ‘This is problematic as government is seeking a sharp reduction in the number of unemployed.’ 

Melissa Mungroo

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