Skills development is vital in SA

In the run up to Workers Day, commemorated annually on May 1st as a celebration of South African workers and the contributions they make toward the well being of the country, Manpower South Africa analyses the importance of implementing a feasible solution to the high unemployment rate in South Africa, particularly amongst the youth.

“The modern business environment requires those currently working as well as those looking for jobs, to constantly be learning, up-skilling and growing, in order to keep up with technological innovations and new ways of working,” explains Lyndy van den Barselaar. “This responsibility does not lie solely with the individual, but also with the organisations in question, as continuous skills development and training will ensure that the business remains relevant, productive and successful. Its people are a businesses most important assets, as the business cannot run successfully without them.”

Improving employee skills becomes a catalyst to enabling overall economic transformation, business growth and enhancing quality of life for al citizens. “It is undeniable that the intellectual, cultural, social and economic empowerment of society is imperative in order for any country to grow and stay progressive,” says van den Barselaar.

According to the 2015 PWC report on retrenchment and redundancy practices in South Africa, 74% of participants undertook retrenchments over the past five years. Currently, South Africa is among the 50 top economies and will need to continuously embrace solutions that will help to address challenges such as skill shortages, talent mobility and talent retention, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) (2015-2016).

The GCI also reported that South Africa’s ranking for efficiency in the labour market also improved, from 113 to 107, although there are still areas of concern, particularly in key sub-indicators, including co-operation in labour-employer relations, where South Africa came last at position 140 in hiring and firing practices, at 138 for flexibility of wage determination, and 127 for linkage between pay and productivity.

A failure to embrace ongoing long-term structural reforms that boost productivity, skills development and entrepreneurial talent will harm the economy’s ability to improve living standards for ordinary individuals and fighting the high unemployment rate.

“Skills training and development is an important factor in fighting these challenges, as it ensures that the country’s current workforce is constantly improving, assists in bridging skills gaps, assists the country in adhering to international best practice and encourages entrepreneurial talent,” says van den Barselaar.

“In the run up to works day, Manpower South Africa encourages all businesses to invest in skills development, not only for the good of their businesses but for the good of South Africa’s economy as a whole.”

A CIPD study carried out last year found that increasing learning and development opportunities play a significant role in increasing employee retention.

“Many organisations seek out skilled individuals and neglect training, on the back of the individual’s experience. These employers are failing to realise that training the workforce is essential to the successful running of the business, and to encouraging an environment of skills and knowledge transfer within the organisation itself,” says van den Barselaar.

“If South African businesses invest in building a highly-skilled workforce, we will also be able to successfully reduce our dependency on foreign expertise in semi-skilled and skilled areas, which is important in lowering the unemployment rate. Additionally, it is imperative that individuals stay informed about how the country’s business landscape is evolving and what skills are in demand. This will assist them in making the most of opportunities that are available to them in terms of skills development and training, ensuring that the working class is able to make informed decisions that will not only shape their future, but the future of the economy and workforce of South Africa,” concludes van den Barselaar.