Skills projects must match workplace demands

2012-02-21 00:00

WORKPLACE demands and closer links between the government and businesses are essential if skills development and job creation projects in South Africa are to have an impact.

According to John Botha, executive director for strategy at Production Management Institute (PMI), the belief that a matric certificate and a first degree will guarantee first-time job market entrants a job is highly erroneous.

“Such misperception around matric-plus degree as the ultimate qualification is out of sync with what business and industry desperately need from South Africa’s education system and is simply not sustainable.”

He was briefing Adcorp Holdings’ executive committee on the Green Paper recently released by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).

While Botha applauded the spirit of the Green Paper in its bid to address major policy and systemic flaws within the post-school education and training system, he said that there was a blatant absence in the document of clear policy on demand-driven skills development.

“We need high level integration of all South Africa’s multiple programmes, policies and strategies as every one of these feed in some way into national development goals,” said Botha.

He stressed that the country needs an integrated national human capital plan, which would serve as a considered, strategic intervention to achieve an education and training system closely aligned to the real demands of the economy.

“[The] government needs to acknowledge that an integrated national human capital plan that speaks to the demands of the workplace for South Africa is pressing.

“In turn, it must allocate responsibility to an appropriate ministry for fully developing this plan,” said Botha.

“The plan should address the full cycle of the human capital value chain, namely early childhood development, general education and training, further education and training, higher education and training, and then through to semi-skilled workers, skilled technical staff, skilled junior management, middle management, senior management and top management.

“In turn, it must then have quantitative targets per year across all these levels,” said Botha.

Botha said programmes like the National Skills Development Strategy 3 (NSDS3), the Human Resource Development Strategy South Africa (HRDS-SA), the New Growth Path (NGP), the National Development Plan (NDP), the Artisan Development Technical Task Team (ADTTT), and others, have their own targets already. He said that all of these targets and goals should be incorporated into, and aligned to, one overall plan.

“Critically, [the] government will need appropriate responsibility between institutions and social partners to generate these competencies.”

He said these approaches would have a positive effect on economic growth, thereby decreasing the rate of poverty and inequality.

Botha emphasised the urgency of fast-tracking initiatives that could take place in the short-term.

He warned that the process “from Green Paper to Policy” would no doubt be protracted.

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