To penetrate the international market in trade and investment, the Free State needs to upskill its people and give them a competitive edge, education MEC Tate Makgoe said yesterday.
Makgoe said the province was now more focused than ever on the development of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in an effort to assist the creation of jobs.
He was speaking at The New Age Business Briefing in Bloemfontein.
Makgoe said the concerted efforts by the provincial government to educate young people by giving them bursaries were not for them to ultimately become job seekers but to be job creators.
He said the Global Investor Trade Bridge, that came to a close yesterday with an awards ceremony at the Civic Theatre in Bloemfontein, was just one platform created by the provincial government to open the market to local businesses.
“You will realise that whenever there is an international trip all sectors are taken along to link them with international companies and investors that they would otherwise not have access to,” Makgoe said.
Makgoe, Mangaung mayor Olly Mlamleli, along with MECs Oupa Khoabane (agriculture) and Mathabo Leeto (sports, arts, culture and recreation), yesterday formed part of the panel that spoke about the economy of the province and the areas of focus for its development and growth.
“As the economy of the province grows and there is more demand on different skills in sectors such as hospitality, agro-processing and culture I have to supply the skilled people,” Makgoe said.
Leeto said there were many economic opportunities that could be taken advantage of, especially during Macufe.
She said Macufe was not only about entertainment but about business opportunities, job creation and the development of local talent.
“Macufe does not end when the 10 days of the festival end. There are many on and offs that emanate from this province,” Leeto said.
She said there was also an opportunity in elevating the level of other cultural festivals that take place across the province throughout the year to assist the growth and development of the arts and culture industry.
On agro-processing as an industry that will help the province contribute immensely to the GDP of the country, Khoabane said young people needed to be geared up to identify opportunities and grab them as they come along.
He said the trade bridge was also a platform for young and emerging farmers to gain access to captain of industry and learn about new farming technologies that would help them improve the way they run their farms.
“The trade bridge conference was also an opportunity for them to network and build long-lasting relationships,” Khoabane said.