What is the strategic role of HR?

2014-01-17 09:23

It’s old news that unemployment is high in South Africa: among graduates the unemployment rate is 5%; among people who have non-degree, tertiary qualifications the rate creeps up to 60% while it soars to a whopping 71% among grade 12 leavers. And when you consider that 7 003 learners sat for their matric exams at the end of last year, approximately 5 000 are unemployed at the moment. At the recent IPM Convention Joe Samuels, head of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), gave his opinion on what he thinks the strategic role of HR is.

At the moment, says Samuels, there is a huge gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” but if policies are to work, this situation can’t remain the same. HR can help to narrow this gap by promoting skills development.

“This is where HR practitioners come into their own,” he says.

3 ways the HR department can promote skills development

  1. We need to do away with the idea that the only way you can learn is to go to university as not many people can afford this type of tertiary education. “We must foster the belief that vocational education is ‘cool’,” proclaimed Samuels.
  2. FET colleges are an affordable alternative to universities. These colleges and universities must work closely together with business so that they can find out what skills industry needs and ensure that learners passing through their doors are upskilled with the necessary requirements. “We must build public - private partnerships. This government cannot do it on its own. We need to have the private sector involved,” he says.
  3. The low levels of numeracy and language skills in our country must be addressed. People need to realise what career paths they can follow with the various skills they have acquired.

“One of the key drivers for the next 10 years is going to be to turn every workplace into a learning space. HR practitioners are absolutely crucial in terms of making this a reality,” concluded Samuels.

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