Furniture Master Plan Will Tackle Industry Bottlenecks to Boost Economy and Job Creation
The Furniture Industry Master Plan will be used as a catalyst to tackle challenges facing the industry as well as boosting the economy to create employment opportunities in the country. This was said by the Chief Director of Agro-processing at the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), Ms Ncumisa Mcata-Mhlauli. She was addressing stakeholders who attended the final consultative workshop on the Furniture Industry Master Plan that was hosted by the dti in partnership with South African Furniture Initiative (SAFI) in Port Elizabeth..
The fact-finding exercise was part of the process that the dti and SAFI have embarked upon to obtain inputs from industry experts as part of an initiative to develop the country’s Furniture Industry Master Plan. The purpose of the master plan is to grow and protect the South African furniture industry, as well as to promote industrial development in the sector which currently exports R3.9 billion of locally made furniture, but import R6.9 billion, mostly from China.
“The furniture industry has been identified among those that are critical in driving employment, due to its labour intensive nature, its ability to be competitive in exports and development of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs). However, the industry has been battered by challenges in the past few years which includes, overpricing of raw materials, capital investment, access to market, competition from cheaper imports, issues around skills development especially design and technical skills, which resulted in its overall workforce declining from 50 000 in 2009 to just over 26 000 in 2018More than 90 percent are employed by SMMEs,” said Mcata-Mhlauli.
She added that the furniture sector draws much attention of young people who are trading informally. Therefore it is important for government together with the private sector to join forces to ensure the sustainability of the industry to grow the economy and to increase the current threshold of employment.
“Industries like furniture are very attractive to the youth. In most townships informal businesses are booming in the furniture industry. As government we need to develop strategies on how we can respond to those who are starting productions in their backyards to help them to grow and make sure they contribute to the local economy. We urge private sector to come on board and form a partnership. That is why we have the process of the master plan. It is important to indicate that master plans are about commitment and collaboration between government, private sector and labour so that we can implement actionable strategies that are going to take the industry forward,” she concluded.
The Chief Director of Agro-Processing at the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), Ms Ncumisa Mcata-Mhlauli addressing stakeholders in Port Elizabeth.
Sidwell Medupe-Departmental Spokesperson
Tel: (012) 394 1650
Mobile: 079 492 1774
Issued by: The Department of Trade and Industry
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