Comments on draft HRD strategy 2017

I studied the Draft Revised HRD Strategy Towards 2030, but unfortunately will not be providing more detailed comments other than these notes.

Partly, because there is so much in the document that needs to be questioned by people who are committed to Human Resource Development, but the main reason for not commenting in detail is that I don’t believe that my comments will make any difference. I am exhausted from commenting on strategies and policies that are implemented without the authors paying serious attention to comments requested from stakeholders.

There are fundamental flaws in the draft HRD Strategy, chief of which is that it does not reflect any serious attempt to deal with the failures of the current approaches to HRD and the projects and programmes informed by the approaches. This is particularly true in the post-school education and training system in which 16-17 billion Rand (only from the skills levy) is spent every year, with questionable impact in terms of value for money. While some challenges are mentioned in the document, there is no concrete plan to address the challenges, or an indication of plans to fundamentally do things differently to overcome the serious challenges across the post-school system.

Just one example: “A key aspect to this initiative is business being able to work effectively through the different SETAs to enable the implementation of this initiative”. One gets the impression that the authors believe that making the statement will ensure its success – but everyone working in this context knows that this is not a valid assumption. The strategy and plans – and particularly the massive numbers in the targets – are simply a continuation of the pattern of the last decade and more.

The numbers are truly impressive:
 20 000 youth appointed to learnership, internship and artisan programmes per year.
 200 000 qualifying TVET students obtaining financial assistance per annum.  Sites for Community work programmes established in 234 municipalities. 15 additional sites established with a minimum of 1 000 participants per site.
 24 000 new artisans qualified. But, do we really have the capacity in the institutions (like municipalities or TVET colleges) to actually deliver the quality that is required? What are these figures based on? Is there research that these are the needs on the demand side, or are we assuming that if these learners are ‘produced’ on the supply side, they will find the ‘right place’ on the demand side of the economy? And are these strategies preparing the workforce for the world of robots and other disruptive technologies that are rapidly replacing artisans, low-skilled workers, and many of the occupations for which the occupation-based system is preparing learners?