The Deputy President was addressing the South African Actuaries Development Programme (SAADP) Annual Alumni Gala Dinner in Johannesburg on Friday.
He said although the programme has achieved a lot since it was launched 14 years ago, much more needs to be done to still realise the vision initially set.
“In a developing country such as ours, having accurate, reliable and detailed insight about our possible futures is crucial to the achievement of our developmental goals.
“The skills you possess and the methods you employ enable us, as partners in development, to plan and manage our economic trajectory with a semblance of confidence and certainty.
“Your work is at the centre of our financial ecosystem. It is critical to its performance, its sustainability and ultimately its survival. It informs how we deploy our resources, how we manage risk and how we prepare for the future.”
He said the success of this programme demonstrates that there is a great deal of hidden talent among the youth of the country, and it demonstrates that South Africa has not even begun to realise its latent potential in the fields of mathematics and science.
“Untapping this resource must become a national obsession. We cannot think and plan without numbers. We cannot make sense of our present without statistics and we cannot plan for the future without actuarial modelling.
“It is for these reasons that we must, working together, do everything to improve our investment in education. We must, in particular, increase the number of black and women students entering these fields of study.”
He said this is not only a transformation imperative but also an economic imperative as it unlocks latent talent and promotes diversity and innovation.
“We have to ensure that professions in maths and science are accessible, affordable and inclusive. We need to complement financial support with academic, social and moral support.
“In this endeavour, there is a role for everyone – government, business, universities, academic, students and alumni.”
Youth urged to grow, transform economy
The Deputy President said as South Africa intensifies its efforts to achieve inclusive growth and work to transform the economy, it looks to young people with their knowledge, skills and social consciousness.
“We look to people like you to assist in the design of the National Health Insurance, the national minimum wage and comprehensive social security.
“Around the world, your profession is changing and your capabilities are no longer seen only as merely an insurance function.
“There is a greater appreciation of the value that actuaries can bring to the development of public policy and the function of national planning. There is a greater appreciation of the importance of statistics, modelling and risk analysis. There is a greater appreciation of the role that each of you has to play in transforming our economy and our society.”
He called on them to help government design the interventions necessary to narrow the inequality gap and distribute resources more equally; change the structure, ownership patterns and control of South Africa’s economy; and empower those who remain disenfranchised by exclusionary policies.
“You must be a central part of the effort to build a South Africa in which all may realise their potential. Because in you, we see the future of South Africa.”