By dessquire, 27 February, 2015

Job Descriptions and skills development

According to the Code of Good Practice on EE in human resources a job description should outline clearly the requirement of the job. This is what an employee must know in order to be able to perform the functions and duties of the position to which he/she is appointed. The code goes on to say these should not be overstated in order to present discriminatory barriers to the designated groups as defined in the Act.

So when job descriptions are developed or revised as required by the EE Act it is essential that employers are seen to be acting fairly. In the light of recent changes to legislation I believe employers need to really give careful consideration to all aspect of the job description as well as to the education and qualification required to do the job so as to remove any barriers to employment equity. First and foremost I believe the educational requirements need to be clearly outlines to allow for historically disadvantaged individuals who might not have had the benefit of an education but have now gained many years of experience in the workplace resulting in many acquired competencies.

Bearing this in mind I would suggest that job descriptions be revised to take into consideration three elements relating to educational requirements. One or more of these may be a requirement.

  1. Required standard of education for the job

  2. NQF qualification or part qualification in terms of relevance to the position or job at the required level on the NQF

  3. Possess a set of required competencies in order to be able to perform the function of the job

This will ensure the job description refers only to the essential or inherent job requirements as required in terms of the Act and the Code of Good Practice. The code in addition sets out the following

  • Each task or duty is clearly stated and seen to be essential to be able to do the job

  • Competencies include only criteria essential to perform the duties of the job. These should be clear and unambiguous

  • Requirements that are not essential to the job should be left out


The secret to success in using this approach will depend on the company and its managers to develop a work environment that is conducive to developing employees and where a culture of learning has been developed. This will necessitate ongoing mentoring, coaching and training as might be required by each member of staff. This approach will in and of itself assist in the retention of employees from designated groups. Ongoing performance management will ensure the identification of further training needs which in turn will assist the employee to effectively perform in the current position or develop into a more challenging position and also assist in the retention of staff.

Skills Development

One of the objectives a company should have is the development of a pool from designated groups from which the employer could choose when and if vacancies arose. This would assist in the achievement of EE objectives. This can be achieved if managers go back to hands on managing instead of managing from their offices or from behind their desks. There is a need to

  • Identify training needs

  • Provide effective mentoring and coaching

  • Provide structured and meaningful on the job training

  • Identify employees with potential and provide accelerated development programmes

When meaningful job roles are clearly defined and managers are involved in ongoing performance management these objectives can be met. Conducting meaningful performance appraisals where the discussion in relation to skills development is taken seriously and the individual development needs of employees is recorded and then acted on is essential if we are to meet the needs of employees and employer.

All managers must be made aware of the training and development priorities of the company and should be encouraged to assist the company and employees in achieving these goals. Should employers decide to make use of a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) approach to promote EE and validate employee skills and knowledge then there should be a specific RPL policy in place.  


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