Government sees skills development as critical and has made this a vital cog in the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030. The NDP aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. According to the plan, South Africa can realise these goals by drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society.

A report analysing skills development in South Africa from 1994 to 2014 paints the following picture:

• “SA has set itself the goals of eradicating poverty, reducing inequality, growing the economy by an average of 5,4%, and cutting the unemployment rate to 6% by 2030. Education, training and innovation are critical to the attainment of these goals” (NDP: 2967).

• NDP enabling milestone: “ensure that skilled, technical, professional and managerial posts better reflect the country’s racial, gender and disability makeup” (NDP: 34)

• NDP critical action: “an education accountability chain, with lines of responsibility from state to classroom” (NDP: 34)

• “Improving the quality of education outcomes throughout the education system [is] one of the highest priorities over the next 18 years, and beyond” (NDP: 133)

Inadequate education system – findings from the NDP

• NDP chapter 9: Improving education, training and innovation

• SA faces a low growth, middle income trap, characterised by:

v Weak competition for goods and services

v High unemployment

v Low savings

v A POOR SKILLS profile

• The quality of education for most black children is poor

• By the end of Grade 12, SA has lost HALF of every cohort entering the schooling system …

• … which wastes human potential and harms life-chances of our youth

Inadequate education system – findings from the NDP

• The post-school system is not well designed to meet our skills development needs

• The performance of universities is uneven

• Further education and training (FET): too small, poor output, not effective (65% of college students unable to find work experience)

• Problems with sectoral education and training authorities (SETAs):

v Poor governance

v Inadequate human resources

v Poor management

v No proper monitoring and evaluation

v No accurate records of beneficiaries and impact

v No linkages with the post-school sector

Why is SA skills development not optimal?

• Apartheid legacy?

• Closure of teacher training colleges?

• Inappropriate merging of educational institutions?

• Outcomes-based education?

• Weak administration (e.g. delivery of school books)?

• Firms not willing to invest in training of employees?

• Other (e.g. role of parents)?

Source: Statistics South Africa report titled: Employment, unemployment, skills and economic growth – An exploration of household survey evidence on skills development and unemployment between 1994 and 2014