At Talent for Biz held in Johannesburg on Saturday 25th May 2019
Talent Biz delegates and participants;
Members of the Media;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
It gives me great pleasure to address you here today at this prestigious occasion. At the outset allow me to convey my sincere appreciation to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for conferring this honour upon us to host such a world class event in South Africa and for allowing me to address this important forum. We are deeply grateful and delighted to be in your midst.
Johannesburg is in good company as Talent for Biz has just come from its tour of Cologne, London and Tashkent and this is the fourth global destination. This speaks volume for the potential of the business relationships that are latent and the immense opportunity that South African talent has to play on the global stage.
Ladies and gentlemen; it’s exciting to have 15 of the most prestigious companies from Turkey with us here today. We always need to remind ourselves that 25 years ago this would be inconceivable as South Afriica was still the pariah of the world and isolated from the global business community as we mounted a strong boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign through the Global Anti-Apartheid Movement that contributed significantly to bringing the Apartheid regime to its knees and ushered in the democracy that we are able to celebrate today.
Today, we are a liberated country proud of our democracy and fresh into the 6th session of the parliament of South Africa. As a nation we have in the post democratic era been able to establish diplomatic ties and trade relations and bilaterals with over 150 countries including Turkey. This is not an insignificant achievement and speaks volumes for the successive generations of leadership that we have had and the growing importance of South Africa as a gateway to Africa.
We enjoy strong cultural, religious and trade ties with Turkey as it is a significant ally strategically located at the nexus of Europe and the Middle East. It has also shown its appetite to build strong and meaningful relationships at government, business and civil society level throughout Africa.
We have many things to learn from Turkey as a fast industrializing nation post World War II. Your achievements are world class and today Turkish expertise and ingenuity is highly sought after in Europe and the world over. In this context Talent for Biz is a very special opportunity for South Africans and local talent to be exposed to companies that are world class and compete with the very best in the world.
Notwithstanding the unique challenges that we face, South Africa is serious about education and growing its human resource base. For the past 25 years education and health care have been the two primary apex priorities of government. It for this reason that we value an initiative such as Talent for Biz that will not only provide opportunities to connect and network South African talent, it also lays the foundations for the next generation of business networking to become a reality.
South Africa is serious about education and growing its human resource base. One only has to consider that in the last apartheid budget in 1993 education accounted for R32 billion. In our last MTEF allocation the education budget aggregated to more than R320 billion. So there is nothing wrong with our intent and commitment but the system is somehow failing us and failing our young people. This is something we have worked on rigorously and its beginning to show positive results but collectively we have to do much more over the next five years.
We only need to consider the structural problem that apartheid bequeathed to us as we strive for equity in the education space to give every South African child an equal chance at education and at cultivating their talent in order to access opportunities in the workplace and in the global market. This is why Talent for Biz is of such strategic value for us as South Africans and I dare say our SADC region and the African continent.
Ladies and gentlemen; you will be shocked to learn that every year 1.2 million South Africans enter our education system and every year less than 400 000 exit the system with a matric. Of these only 120 000 can access a place at university or place of higher learning. This is a crisis of our lost generation many of whom will swell the ranks of the unemployed. These will never be able to access the fantastic and life-changing opportunities that initiatives such as Talent for Biz offers. This is something that we continue to neglect at our own peril as this is a vast human resource pool potential that is going to waste.
Talent for Biz is therefore an exceptional example of cooperation between business and government that can effect change in the social conditions of individuals and communities through exposure to the big world of commerce, trading and futuristic industries that is now beginning to shape the way our world works.
Ladies and gentlemen; Allow me to briefly explain the unique challenge that we face. Many countries are net exporters of talent and expertise. This provides valuable opportunities for growth, career development and international exposure. In many fields today, South African expertise is highly sought after. This ranges from IT, financial services, medical and medical services, mechanical, infrastructure/construction, nursing and auxiliary services, education, agriculture and mining.
Our human resource base have proven themselves to be adaptable and easily bridge the diverse cultural divide ranging from Africa, Middle East, Far East, Latin and North America and down under where South African professionals ply their trade and are highly sought after. They are hard-working and not shy to put in the extra hours whilst simultaneously being versatile and able to work across multiple workstreams and in multiple environments ranging in complexity.
I think that the Turkish companies present here will be pleasantly surprised at the depth of talent, level of innovation and overall capacity and competency of the South African talent pool. They will undoubtedly do South Africa proud and serve the companies in which they find perfect match with distinction and be the vanguard of building even stronger relations between our two sister countries.
I want to take a special moment to thank all those who made this event possible. Our young and not so young people are highly skilled and deserve exposure to a greater global platform. The more we are able to build such talent exchange and build this human resource bridge to a brighter future, the more we are able dream of the South Africa that Nelson Mandela and generations before him struggled and sacrificed life and limb for.
Talent for Biz is a platform that gives real opportunity to South Africans and in so doing helps to give expression to our vision of building a South Africa that is united, just, equal, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and provides prosperity for all our people. This helps us to restore dignity and able us to work together to build a better life for all our people.
I trust that those who are successful in accessing these opportunities will deliver real value to their host companies and employers. I wish them every luck and hope that they grow through the ranks and achieve leadership positions so that they can be an example to the next generation of upcoming South Africa talent.
Once again, we express our heartfelt appreciation to all the Turkish companies participating here and hope that you will return many times more not only to hunt our talent but to enjoy the amazing African hospitality that South Africa offers and the incredible diversity of our natural habitat, our flora and fauna but most of all our people that make South Africa the unique place that it is.
I thank you!!!
Royal House of Mandela
Nkosi Zwelivelile “Mandla” Mandela, chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council and grandson of famed South African President Nelson Mandela. Member of Parliament (MP) South Africa National Assembly.