More South Africans are working for themselves with one in six now self-employed, economist Mike Schussler said on Wednesday. In 2002, one in seven was an entrepreneur.
"That's a huge increase. Partly it's survival, partly it's entrepreneurship. I think more and more people realise that they are not going to get rich working for someone else," he said, presenting his fifth South African Unemployment Report, which was commissioned by trade union the United Association of South Africa.
While there are about 2,1-million businesses in South Africa, only 600 000 are in the formal sector. Those self-employed in the informal sector are also "just scraping a living", said Schussler.
"The biggest challenge is how to bring people from the informal into the formal sector, so that they can not only pay tax, but also be on a more even footing, get access to finance and get their products out there," he said.
He called on the government to reduce red tape, which makes it time-consuming and expensive for businesses to register.
In line with his complaint, the number of clerical workers had increased between 2001 and 2006, along with managers and legislators. The number of workers in areas the economy needed, like plant and machinery workers, had declined.
In the past four years, the construction sector has seen the biggest growth in employment, while mining has seen a decline of 30%.
He said sector education and training authorities need to spend more money on specialised skills than on general education.
About 13 000 artisans a year were being trained in the 1980s. This figure is about 3 000 at present, when between 20 000 and 50 000 are needed.
There is also a shortage of nurses, due to low salaries and a lack of training. The private sector is, however, picking up some of the slack. "These days the private sector is a lot more responsible for training. We're seeing a lot more market success and state failure."
He said despite the government's Jipsa skills-acquisition programme, it is not yet serious enough about reducing the skills shortage.
Formal-sector bosses each employ about 14 people, while their counterparts in the informal sector employ about 0,5 people.
More men are becoming self-employed in the formal sector, and more women in the informal sector.
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