As South Africa faces possibly its most critical economic crisis ever, businesses are being called on to support a Jobs Pledge, to facilitate the creation of 14-million new jobs within the next 15 years. Collaborative Stakeholder Movement (CSM) today launched the CSM Jobs Pledge, challenging organisations to grow an inclusive economy through the expansion, enhancement and preservation of jobs.

South Africa currently has just over 15-million formal jobs but, according to Chris Hart, economist of Investment Solutions, a further 9-million to 10-million would be required for full employment – and by 2030, a further 14-million will be required. The National Development Plan (NDP) calls for 11-million.

Hart outlines a deepening economic crisis that could push South Africa to the brink of insolvency, but there is a way to avoid the negative outcomes, he says.

“The bad news is that if we continue the way we are, we will get the outcomes we expect.

“But the good news is that the problems are not external: in the main, our destiny is in our own hands. If we change course, South Africa could be a haven for investors.”

To do this, Hart says the country needs to urgently adopt policies that help to build savings and investment; and embrace the NDP.

“The NDP is a pragmatic solution that people can live with,” he says. “But it can only work if it is driven through savings and investment growth.”

Policy should prioritise job creation, Hart says, with other outcomes deferring to the over-arching need to create jobs.

“The economy is only bad if we don’t do anything,” He says. “We can turn it around. This country has deep economic potential and will remain a high opportunity country.”

Viola Manuel, incoming CEO of CSM, explains that the Jobs Pledge project is being launched around Mandela Day.

“We created an opportunity for the private sector to engage more in creating jobs,” she says. “We understand that each organisation has its own challenges in this economy. And so we allow each company to write its own pledge.

Outgoing CSM CEO Martin Humphries explains that the organisation started with the end in mind. “Everyone is talking about jobs, but let’s understand where we want to go. So we are 10-million jobs short today.: how long will it take us to get where we need to be? Which is how we came up with 14-million jobs by 2015.”

He believes the unemployment crisis should serve as a major rallying call for South Africa; and that all South Africans can make a difference.

“We are asking for positive intervention from everyone across society to stand together and rally behind the initiative.”

All organisations across business, government, NGOs, organised business bodies, political parties and professional bodies are invited to sign the Jobs Pledge, affirming their commitment to foster an environment for job creation.

Employers are called to pledge to help create jobs either internally or externally. Internally, companies that may not be able to increase jobs could at least retain the workers they have, and possibly enhance the employment.

Enterprises could also help to enhance employment outside their organisations. They can do this by supporting SMEs through an investment vehicle that is being finalised now.

“We can promote small business opportunities and marry that with a funding structure,” Humphries says.

There is also an Ambassador’s Pledge, which individuals are urged to sign in a gesture of solidarity.