SA's skills shortage intensifying

2007-11-21 00:00

The research has revealed “entrenched and serious problems” with efforts to alleviate skills shortages in the country, CDE executive director Ann Bernstein said yesterday.

The CDE research focused on four key areas of concern in determining whether South Africa is making progress with skills development. These are Setas (Sector Education and Training Authorities) and the framework for addressing skills shortages; a survey of constraints to delivery and productivity in the public service; training artisans and the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition's (Jipsa) role in the skills revolution.

Bernstein said few stakeholders are convinced that the money spent on Seta's has been efficiently used.

“Since 2002 nearly R20 billion has gone through the SETA system.

“The study showed that SETAs are unwieldy and ambitious in scope, burdened with demanding targets - some of which appear to be in conflict with each other.

“Learners enter skills training programmes with inadequate grounding in mathematics and communication as well as insufficient skills for learning and poor attitudes about work,” she said.

“There is too much focus on low-level training to reach equity targets rather than a more strategic approach to transform the sector.”

Turning to the public service, Bernstein said the study confirmed vacancies in national and provincial government departments, which the skills shortage prolongs and exacerbates.

She said that at the end of December 2006 national and provincial governments alone listed some 321 665 vacant posts.

Bernstein also said South Africa suffers from a declining and ageing artisan workforce, with 70% of currently employed artisans expected to retire over the next five to six years.

“Jipsa's research estimates that South Africa currently produces about 5 000 artisans a year, which will have to rise to 12 500 a year for the next four years to meet demand for a projected increase of 30 000 over the period 2007 to 2010.”

Bernstein said the roots of the country's skills shortages go deep into its system of education and training.

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