Thulani DubeRetrenchments seem to have become a painful reminder of the state of the economy. The latest casualties of this employment crisis are Massmart and Telkom. This is in addition to a growing list of companies engaging with unions to navigate the job-shedding process. In a world constantly cutting or preparing to cut jobs, the focus needs to move from a culture of employability to one that promotes innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.


The change in focus should not only be at an educational curriculum level, but also through internal organisational processes that drive and nurture creativity that not only focus on the value chain of the organisation, but also on creativity outside the scope of the business.


This will be particularly useful in times of retrenchments, where those who face the proverbial axe are not left without a means of survival.

Although it is necessary to compensate employees fairly for the loss of employment, companies must do more with regard to developing employees to function in the event that they lose their income.


This can be done by identifying those who can grow and develop in the company’s value-chain system as independent suppliers. Organisations must take active steps to identify individuals with an entrepreneurial flare and constantly develop them, while they are still in the organisation. This means internal human resources empowerment must go beyond development for growth within the organisation, to growth outside the organisation. Investing in employees within organisations must transcend development just to affect the bottom line.


The economic climate of job losses has seen this as the main solution for those affected, and seeking alternative employment. While it seems the most logical option, the results may be less than positive, especially in an environment that is continually shedding jobs. The development of individuals who can contribute towards the growth of new enterprises will help grow the economy, especially considering that these enterprises will contribute to job creation.


While the model is to promote innovation from within organisations as a solution for life in the event of retrenchment, the perpetuation of the status quo in encouraging individuals to start small businesses must be challenged.


First, through shifting people’s beliefs that start-ups can’t grow and succeed, then secondly by investing in ecosystems that allow for the growth of large and scalable enterprises. Organisations might tie the development of human resources for entrepreneurial endeavours with their corporate social innovation strategies and funding.


The identification of employee talent or growth areas must go hand in hand with the creation of ecosystems that support their growth, such as access to markets and to reasonably priced financing.


  • Thulani Dube is faculty manager (quality assurance and operations) as well as entrepreneurship and economic transformation faculty programmes co-ordinator, and business studies lecturer at Cornerstone Institute.
  • Originally published in the Cape Argus on Tuesday, 28 January 2020.
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