SA skills shortages 1


My view is that in order to address this serious skills shortage, we have to begin to distinguish between skilled and semi- skilled workers. The ideal is to have skilled workers only but i think our situation ( poverty and unemployment) warrents economically active citezens.

The economic and industry sectors can do much better with more semi skilled workers who can earn an income and improve the livelyhoods of many more South Africans. An electrical contracter does not only need qualified electricians. In fact evryone qualified electrician could be seen as a teamleader with five or more semi-skilled workers under his/ her supervision.

I do not think that trying to enskill everyone to a level of being a qulaified artisan is a not a realisticapproach to resolve our problems of poverty, crime and unemployment.

Another concern i have is that the FET colleges that are seen to be key in addressing the county’s skill shortages are actually ending many lecturers and teachers services due to the various institutions financial constraints.

The harsh reality for us is that despite the skills shortages we face in our country we are unable to provide for skills development needs as institutions are unable to impact on this big need. Why should colleges have to let lecturers go? Add this to a heavily politicised education system and see how commercialised and institutionalised learning contribute to poverty, crime and unemployment.

This conevrsation could endless so this is all i have for now.

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One thought on “SA skills shortages

  • Kudakwashe Mutara

    The issue of skills shortage is not something that is unique to South Africa. It is a global problem. My observation is that it affects the developing economies more because they cannot offer attractive packages in comparison with developed economies. In some of the developing countries the problem is compounted by political instability, corruption, nepotism and other ills. A skilled person is someone who invested a lot of time, effort and money in order to acquire such skills. Invariably, s/he seeks value in that investment and we cannot expect her/him to be loyal to an environment which does not give her/him the value of what s/he is worth. Having said this, it does not mean that nothing can be done to retain or grow critical skills and South Africa has not done much so far in this direction, particularly in the maths and science teaching area where I am a participant. I am a foreign national who was attracted to this country almost four years ago by a shortage of maths and science teachers.I have noted that the country seems to have a long way to go before it meets its needs in maths and science teaching. Quite a number of schools in my locality struggle to fill vacancies that arise in maths, particularly. If management eventually find a teacher, chances are high that s/he is foreign. If local, the person may not be a qualified maths teacher, but someone who was good or had interest in the subject. For the period I have been in this country, I have not come across a manpower development plan which details how the government is addressing or intends to address this shortage, unless such document is not in the public domain. The situation is worsened by the attitude that learners good in maths have towards the teaching profession. Many that I have talked to swear that their feet will never enter the classroom and they advance a variety of reasons, chief being low pay and learners’ indiscipline. My observation is that the school curriculum in this country pays very little attention to vocational skills. There seems to be emphasis on matric pass and entrance into university. There is nothing wrong perse in this, but experience in other countrie shows that matriculants can be economically useful and productive immediately after high school if they do practical/vocational subjects like wood technology, mechanical technology and so on. Whilst some schools offer these subjects, the mumber is not as big and they tend to be confined to former model C schools, yet, in my opinion, it is children in locations and rural areas who need technical skills in order to be more attractive to potential employers and also to venture into micri-businesses. I think somebody needs to start doing something on manpower development because it takes time to get results after a project of such nature has been launched. Departments should also link and synchronise policies, something that I have found to be lacking in this country. For example, Home Affairs manpower development plans can feed into Higher education manpower development plans. Home Affairs must also be provided with quantities of skills that can be sourced from outside and this can be mandatory for every organisation that may be experiencing skills problems. To a certain extent, this policy synchrony will ensure that the country recruits only the skills that are needed and not every Tom, Dick and Harry. A country cannot totally depend on foreiners in order to power its development. Foreign nationals are like nomads. They look for greener pastures and if the greenness is disappearing where they are, they take their skills elsewhere as long as they are still marketable. It would be interesting to prepare an inventory of skills that use this country as a conduit to enter other markets. South Africa is a large economy and has the potential to grow, but this can only happen if greater efforts are channelled into manpower development. Many countries on the continent have focused on politics rather than economic planning, no wonder they are in a sorry state in which they find themselves. That chapter should not be written in this country. May God bless this country and give it visionery leaders at all levels. The curriculum vitae of an organisation is a function of the curriculum vitae of its leaders.