Skills planning needs to meet changing economy

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Hlengiwe Mkhize says there needs to be a proper understanding of the qualifications and skills training required to meet the complex and evolving needs of society and the economy.

“While we acknowledge the importance of the need to expand access to higher education, our approach to skills planning needs to take into account the challenges of economic growth and inclusive development in South Africa,” Minister Mkhize said.

Minister Mkhize made the remarks during a skills dialogue on Tuesday at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, where she was joined by a delegation from the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, led by Higher Education and Scientific Research Minister, Dr Sidi Ould Salem.

The main aim of their visit was to discuss the two countries’ policies of post school education, with special interest in possibly developing and offering programmes of excellence in scientific, technical and vocational training, as well as English Language training.

Value of skills planning

Minister Mkhize said skills planning should not only focus on a small number of skilled people in the workplace, but also on the unemployed, the youth, the low-skilled, the marginalised, and those in vulnerable forms of employment, including the self-employment.

“The dilemma facing policy makers is how to respond to these diverse sets of development and how resources should be targeted for inclusive skills development. These imperatives may seem paradoxical but each is essential to achieve a more inclusive growth and development trajectory.

“The economy must also respond to the twin challenge of participating in a globally competitive environment, which requires a high skills base, and a local context that creates low-wage jobs, with supported training to absorb the large numbers who are unemployed or in vulnerable jobs,” Minister Mkhize said.

She said there is a real need in South Africa to achieve a better match between the supply and demand for skills, to improve productivity and the social and economic outcomes for individuals and communities.

Labour market intelligence

She also noted that the use of Labour Market Intelligence (LMI), linked to planning, is an important instrument – though not the only instrument – for achieving this.

“The intention of government in developing a skills planning mechanism is underpinned by the effective analysis and interpretation of LMI to address the continuing skills mismatches and imbalances, which are widely seen as a constraint on economic growth and development, and on the achievement of government’s broader goals of social inclusion and poverty reduction.”

The 2013 White Paper on Post-School Education and Training observes that “although South Africa has put in place a range of ambitious measures to improve skills planning, the system has neither produced good information about skills needs, nor increased the quality of provision in areas needed by the economy”.

It further states that the limited credibility and impact of the current sector skills planning system is due to inadequate research capacity, a lack of economics, labour market and industry expertise, poor data management and a lack of planning expertise. -

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