Paramount Group executive chairman Ivor Ichikowitz says South Africa needs to invest more in the next generation of engineers and technicians if it is to grow its economy – including the defence industry. The industrialist agreed with Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan that a shortage of skilled workers is a major factor in holding back the country’s economic growth.
“I am passionate about the maintenance of world-class defence and aerospace in Africa but without the necessary support, its future is fragile. We must lay solid foundations and, as Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has indicated, the time to act is now,” he said after donating more than R 180 000 to support youth education programmes.
“Home-grown talent and skills are crucial to continuing to establish the African defence and aerospace industry worldwide and Paramount recognises the continent’s youth as the sector’s future,” Ichikowitz continued.
“Paramount is a global business, manufacturing in Jordan, India and Azerbaijan. We understand how fundamental a developed skills base is to growth. If Africa is to continue to establish itself as a global industry leader, the next generation must be carefully nurtured. Without investment in science and maths, the continent’s future in high technology could be jeopardised.”
Visitors to the Africa and Aerospace Defence 2010 exhibition were invited to decorate a Paramount Maverick internal security vehicle with coloured handprints. Ichkovitz at the time undertook that for every handprint on the vehicle, Paramount would donated R250 to a Youth Development Programme (YDP) that promotes and facilitates career opportunities and training within the aerospace and defence sector. This raise R130 250.
An additional donation of R50 000 was made to the Department of Defence’s Military Skills Development System (MSDS), a programme which promotes career opportunities within South Africa’s military forces.
The donation was made in person by Ichikowitz during a visit to the Alta Du Toit School for children with learning difficulties. YDP chair Janine Fredericks accepted the funds “with extreme gratitude. This donation helps the programme to continue with its important work to boost interest in the industry amongst young people and support their burgeoning career paths. Not only do we at the programme appreciate this generosity, but more importantly, so will the young minds that will benefit from it.”
Ichikowitz says Paramount is “thrilled to be involved with leading programmes like the YDP and the MSDS, and embrace our responsibility for the future of Africa’s technological advancement. Its young engineers must grasp the opportunity they have to enter its most exciting and innovative industry, but they are going to need our help.”