What will happen to the skills gap in South Africa?

The critical skills gap in South Africa is of growing concern in many industries. It is surprising that employers are not investing more significantly in Learning and Development (L&D). According to the annual Deloitte Human Capital Trends Report, only 28% of South African employers say they are helping employees build skills. About 30% of companies say they do not have clear career paths for employees within their organisations.

This is in stark contrast to the statistics of other countries. The report indicates that globally, 83% of executives have identified L&D as crucial. In response to this, many organisations have started to help employees with continuous L&D to overcome the critical skills gap in various industries. Assisting employees to grow their skills set and to prosper in the workplace is a top priority for many.

In addition, the report shows that locally, only 58% of organisations described themselves as being prepared when it comes to how employers manage careers and deliver learning and development. This positions South Africa as ‘not ready’, according to the report.

If corporate South Africa does not invest more of it’s time, energy and resources into L&D, the skills gap will continue to grow and hinder the progress of companies and the country. The results of the report indicate that many South African corporates are taking a more reactive approach to skills development. We need to be implementing sustainable strategies that will provide continuous long-term results.

It is clear that corporates can no longer rely on government to bridge the skills gap. For corporates to remain profitable and competitive, they need to ensure that the relevant skills required in their industries are being taught to their future workforces.  

An ideal way to do this is to identify individuals in their pre-tertiary education stage and map out career paths that align with the needs of the organisation. By identifying and coaching these individuals early in their development, not only will businesses reduce the skills deficit in their organisations, but will ensure they do not have to compete with other large corporates in the race to snatch up the limited and in-demand university graduates.

Learnerships can also play a significant role in bridging the skills gap in South Africa. Empowering and developing individuals through NQF-accredited learning programmes is a valuable and effective way to upskill the workforce and, in turn, give the economy the boost it needs. In addition, learnerships also provide organisations with valuable points for their B-BBEE scorecard.

Tarryn Mason is the Managing Director of Progression.

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October 2017 digimag