Skills council to tackle unemployment, grow economy

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pretoria - The Human Resources Development Council of South Africa (HRDSA) is a milestone towards fighting unemployment and growing the economy says Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande.

"This Council will focus its work on the priorities and actions necessary to achieve progress in the key and inter-dependent pillars of our HRD strategy: quality educational attainment at all levels; skills development; science and innovation; and labour market policies," said Nzimande at the launch on Tuesday.

"As you are aware, government has for years spoken about skills development and its importance in ensuring economic development and ultimately dealing with unemployment. The launch of this council is a milestone towards this goal and ensuring that skills development is conceptualized as a critical component of the four pillars of human development," he said.

Thirty-six out of the 43 member representatives of labour and government as well as higher education institutions attended the meeting under the leadership of Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

The Council, which is chaired by the deputy president, also comprises a technical working group whose primary focus will be to execute decisions of the council on revelent matters. This group will, if necessary, set up technical task teams for expertise.

Bheki Ntshalintshali was appointed as the Chairperson of the Technical Working Group and the first deputy chair of the council. Processes to appoint a second deputy chair are underway.

The Council has committed itself to increase the number of appropriately skilled people to meet the demands of the country's current and emerging economic and social development priorities, as well as to ensure improved universal access to quality basic education and schooling.

Motlanthe said: "We cannot deny that we have come a long way since our liberation from apartheid. We have achieved a great deal of success in breaking barriers. However, the majority of our people still face unbelievable obstacles that prevent them from leading economically productive lives".

The HRD is a continuation of strategies such as the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (Jipsa) which aimed to develop the skills that are urgently needed in the country.

At Tuesday's meeting, the strategic and guidelines documents were adopted.

Council members also agreed to engage the Draft HRD Strategy for South Africa which will culminate in the finalization of the strategy before July's Cabinet Lekgotla.

By the end of the year, council will establish a mechanism to commission relevant research in the field of human resource development as well as amend and adopt the HRDSA strategy.

"There are certain gaps that need to be addressed and the skills that are required by the economy .The critical element we are trying to address is the mismatch of the skills that we are producing now versus vie the demand from the economy. But we can say that the HRDSA is meant to address the skills requirements of the country as well as Africa," said Motlanthe.

The council will meet again on 16 July.