Now or never: addressing the skills gap in SA

The critical skills gap that exists in South Africa is a growing concern for many industries. One would assume, to combat this concerning lack of critical skills, employers would be investing more in learning and development (L&D). However, according to the annual Deloitte Human Capital Trends Report, the opposite is true.

According to the report, which delves into the top human capital trends for South Africa, and other countries around the world, only 28% of South African employers say they’re helping employees build skills and roughly 30% of companies say they do not have clear career paths within their organisation.

This is a 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 that exists 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% described their organisation as being prepared, which rates South Africa as ‘not ready’, when it comes to how employers manage careers and deliver learning and development.

Tarryn Mason, Managing Director of Progression, comments on the results of the report,“If we, as corporate South Africa, do not invest more of our time, energy and resources in L&D, the skills gap, already evident in South Africa, will continue to grow and hinder our progress as companies and as a 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,” comments Tarryn.

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

Tarryn adds, “An ideal way of doing this is to identify individuals in their pre-tertiary education stage and map out career paths that align to the needs of your organisation. By identifying and coaching these individuals early in their development, not only will you ensure that there is no skills deficit in your organisation, but it will also ensure that you do not have to compete with the many large corporates in snatching up the limited and in-demand varsity graduates”.

“Learnerships will also play a huge role in bridging the skills gap evident in South Africa. Empowering and developing individuals through NQF-accredited learning programmes is a valuable and effective way to upskill your 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. The benefits are countless,” concludes Tarryn.

For more information on learnerships read our article What is a Learnership?