Wednesday, June 20, 2007

SA skills 'in deep trouble'

20/06/2007 13:29
Skills shortage real - survey
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Johannesburg - Interviews with senior company officials have confirmed that shortages of skills is one of the most costly and troublesome issue affecting the management of South African businesses over the last two years, said the Centre for Development and Enterprise on Wednesday.
The recent CDE survey included a cross section of 40 businesses recruiting skilled labour in Gauteng. Only CEOs or other senior company representatives were interviewed.
Says CDE director Ann Bernstein: "In order to confront the full reality of our skills crisis we have to face the fact that South African education and training is in deep trouble.
"Fixing this will take a generation. But the question no one wants to deal with in the current discussion on the skills shortage is: What do we do in the meantime?"
'Re-think EE plan'
Bernstein points out that the findings of this survey provide immediate options for addressing the skills crisis.
"While we are grappling with fixing our struggling education and training system," Bernstein argues, "immediate responses available are the speedy restoration of the apprentice system, opening up of immigration and a government re-think on the pressures for employment equity".
Nearly half of the businesses surveyed were in manufacturing with the remainder spread across mining, retail and services.
One quarter had fewer than 100 employees; three had over 10 000 employees, with the rest spread fairly evenly in size between these extremes.
"SA becoming more skills intensive"
"The responses of these businesses made it clear that the South African economy is becoming more skills intensive. The companies were asked what percentage of their staff fell into the category of 'scarce skills'.
"Two thirds responded that more than half of their staff could be described in this way," said the CDE.
"The survey's findings also revealed that formal technical qualifications are not the only skills in short supply. For the majority of businesses in the sample the greatest shortfall is in experience and breadth of judgment, as well as people and social skills.
"The shortages felt by business are occurring in an increasingly competitive global skills market, where pressures are exacerbated by emigration, ageing and promotion of skilled staff.
'Transformation hurting the market'
Moreover, government's insistence on ambitious transformation goals is constricting the skills market further, driving competition for skilled black staff in a situation where whites - the largest available pool of skilled people - are no longer freely employable."
Difficulties reported in recruiting skilled black staff, included problems of poaching, along with the salary premium required to retain skilled black personnel.
These reported problems suggest that the skills shortage is being driven, in part, by the unintended consequences of empowerment policies, said the researchers.
"The most significant finding of the report was that the skills shortage was primarily driven by the failure of the public education system at all levels to deliver quality - consistently and in enough quantity," said the CDE.
"Business in South Africa recognises that it has a role to play in developing skills. Skills shortages are, however, costly and difficult to remedy when the educational system does not provide a good platform for skills development as is the case in South Africa today," said the CDE.
Bernstein concludes: "Unless there is strong leadership to recruit, retain and utilise all the skills available to us in the domestic as well as the global markets, the private sector will struggle to expand capacity and the South African economy will be held back."

fok die AA en BEE dis die probleem!!

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