Partnerships with labour, business, government and community sectors were needed to alleviate the impact of the current climate.
The President was addressing a business function hosted by The New Age newspaper and the SABC. The session was organised to give the President an opportunity to update the country on the progress his administration has made since the State of the Nation Address at the start of the year.
Zuma said a number of job projects were also being implemented to tackle SA's high unemployment rate. These, he said, included the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), new cooperatives and projects in the construction sector.
According to Zuma, the EPWP created new employment opportunities for an additional 34 000 people compared with the previous year, providing opportunities and income for a total of 280 000 persons.
The Community Works Programme, for its part, provided job opportunities for more than 80 000 people.
Estimates suggest that current plans for large-scale developments such as electricity plants, rail and road upgrades and water management, will sustain between 50 000 and 100 000 jobs in construction up to 2015.
With regards to the social economy, over 300 co-operatives have been established under the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme. The Department of Trade and Industry’s co-operative incentive scheme has generated more than a 1 000 direct permanent jobs, Zuma said.
The public sector was a "stabiliser" for employment, as it had increased jobs even during the economic recession period in 2008.
Government was also focusing "intensively" on skills development, education, and the fight against HIV and Aids, Zuma said.
He mentioned the recent national skills accord signed by government, business, labour and community organisations aimed at improving skills development and quality education.
In terms of the skills accord, employers, in collaboration with the Sector Education and Training Authorities (Setas), committed to placing 30 000 artisans in training programmes this financial year.
Zuma told the business delegation that work was being done to improve the quality of basic education the country, with special focus on the Eastern Cape Education Department.
The department has been plagued by various problems including allegations of fraud, the suspension of scholar transport, the suspension of the school nutrition programme, which was the only source of nutrition to many poverty-stricken learners, and undelivered learner materials, which has in turn affected thousands of learners.
A task team has been established to support the province and has come up with a turnaround strategy.
In terms of land reform, Zuma reported that 33 560 hectares of agricultural land were acquired to provide emerging farmers with access to land.
In order to enhance the productivity of farms transferred to beneficiaries, 116 farms have been recapitalised through the provision of funds for, amongst others, infrastructure, mechanisation, seeds, livestock and the transfer of skills by commercial farmers.
Zuma urged communities to support the land reform programme and not resell their land or farms back to previous owners as has happened in some instances.
The President also touched on HIV transmission, where he reported that transmission rates have significantly declined from 8% to 3.5% nationally. In addition, a total of 14.7 million people have taken the HIV test as part of the HIV and Aids Counselling and Testing campaign that was launched in April last year.
Government was also making strides in basic services such as improving access to water and, electricity and housing. This is in addition to the fight against crime, corruption and access to justice.
On the recently reopened investigations into the SA arms deal, Zuma promised to release further details on the arms deal commission of inquiry soon.
The Presidency recently announced he would set up a commission of inquiry into South Africa's controversial multimillion rand arms deal.
The commission's terms of reference still had to be released, and it was not yet known who would preside over the inquiry.