With the launch of the second major report of the National Learners? Records Database (NLRD) on 15 June 2007, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) continues to be recognised as the key national source of information for human resource development in policy, infrastructure and planning.
Referring to data on the number of graduates from Trends in Public Higher Education in South Africa 1995 to 2004 at the Agricultural Research Council Conference Centre in Pretoria, the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, noted that in 1995 there were 542 398 graduates in the available pool.
Ten years later, in 2004, that pool of graduates had grown to 1,18 million. Whereas in 1995 only one in four in the pool was a black graduate, in 2004 two in four were black graduates.
"That statistic is a clear measure of the success of our policies in widening access to higher education,' reported the Minister. "Yet the depth of the historical legacy of apartheid damage and distortion is evident in the simple fact that the majority of black graduates are in the social sciences and not in the engineering sciences and technology.'
In the fields of study, the largest growth was in Business and Management Sciences, while the lowest growth was in Health Sciences, and in Engineering Sciences and Technology.
"This is a clear reflection on where young people want to be and where institutions of higher education are positioning themselves,' commented Minister Pandor. She went on to add that the interconnections between education and labour demand and supply, or the labour market, are complex.
While the appetite of the South African labour market for better-skilled workers is well known, the figures indicate that, in the post-apartheid era, the education system has significantly altered the educational profile of those individuals who are entering the labour force.
"They also tell us that we need more matriculants if we are to increase the number of graduates in the available pool,' concluded the Minister, "and we really need to push the issue of the quality of education.'
The Minster thanked SAQA for its hard work in the production of this new edition of Trends in Public Higher Education in South Africa 1995 to 2004. "The test for us is going to be how we respond to the data,' she concluded.