Why Skills Development is so Important

Why Skills Development is so Important in South Africa

Why Skills Development is so Important in South AfricaTwo of the writing team members had a very hard-working and honest domestic worker. She saved up enough money to quit her unskilled, full-time domestic work to attend a three-month course in office management. She continued to work on Saturdays.

With her new skills, she was able to find employment at a company as a receptionist. Her new, marketable skills allowed her to get formal employment. She had a regular salary and benefits that before that were closed to her. It meant more opportunities.

Skills development means more and better opportunities. It means that jobs can be considered where unskilled workers would never be able to venture. Skills are a key to the economy growing, businesses expanding and job creation.

South Africa’s quality of education continues to decline. More and more school-leavers are less and less skilled. Lack of skills among prospective workers is one reason for high unemployment. The unskilled job seeker has fewer options than skilled graduates.


South Africa faces a distinct challenge

South Africa had decades of unequal education. The majority of South Africans didn’t have the skills required to function in a modern economy. Bantu education was specifically designed to inhibit Black South Africans’ progress. It ensured that they could function as little more than gardeners, domestic workers, and day labourers.

A lot of skilled workers left the country in the run-up to our first democratic election. Many more skilled workers left the country over the last twenty-five years. The rise in violent crime and perceived better opportunities abroad have been reasons for this skills exodus.

It was also necessary to redress the unfair employment policies of the past.  But many who would now take the positions opened to them hadn’t been trained with the necessary skills. This situation has never been properly addressed.

With transformation came an unskilled workforce occupying positions that required skilled workers.  Without up-skilling the workforce, transformation leads to incompetent workers working in jobs ineffectively.

We see this in the billions of Rands spent on outsourcing skills. Literally, hundreds of billions of Rands have been spent on contractors and consultants. They who have the skills that the labour force lacks. There needs to be transformation.  But it is a mistake to neglect to equip our workforce.


Short, Mid and Long-term Strategies to Address the Skills Crisis


We need to entice skilled workers to come to South Africa. This would mean good packages and prospects for expats and foreign workers. Requirements for skilled individuals should be easy for them to migrate to South Africa. It is something that should be seriously considered and implemented.

NGO’s are not in the position to directly change immigration laws. They can lobby and influence and educate. But any real change would need to come from the government.

This would be a short-term but necessary solution. We need the skills that ensure hospitals, for example, run properly. Necessary services must not be threatened due to lack of skills.



A mid-term strategy would be to see bureaucratic positions equipped with the necessary skills. These would include people and administrative skills. Skills transfer has to take place. We need on-going workshops and training. Government departments in particular need to ensure that their workers have the skills to deliver services throughout the country. Bad service is one result of lack of training.



A long-term solution will need a far-sighted strategy. This country needs to see learners and workers equipped with the necessary skills. We need a variety of skilled workers into the future. We need engineers and teachers and artisans. We need managers and web developers and skilled salespeople. One in three jobs could become automated in the next few years. This calls for rapid and effective skills development.


How Umsizi Can Help You to be Part of Skills Development

Umsizi will help your company to be part of the skills development solution. By integrating effective skills development as part of your SED and/or your CSR you will be making a real difference. To look at eight of the many benefits of CSR read our article here.






Poor service/performance and lack of skills:


Public services lack of skills:


Skills needed:



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