What are the characteristics and determinants of the skills challenge in South Africa?

The articles referred to below were published in Development Southern Africa Volume 33, Issue 3 (May 2016).

Please contact the authors using the email addresses provided to learn more about their research. 

In "Skills in South Africa: the journey towards credible planning", Marcus Powell, Vijay Reddy and Andrea Juan reflect on the evolving role of the state in skills planning in South Africa, and how our frameworks need to respond both to the demands of the economy, and to address the historical legacy of exclusion in education and training. Contact: vreddy@hsrc.ac.za

The interactions between post-school education and training, employment and economic growth are explored by Haroon Bhorat, Aalia Cassim and David Tseng. Their research shows that the degree cohort contributes to economic growth, unlike other institutions, particularly TVET colleges. They propose that a more optimal return on investment in the TVET system is required, so that certificate holders can contribute to the growth process. Contact: haroon.bhorat@uct.ac.za

Turning to the datasets required for skills planning, Andrew Paterson and Mariette Visser consider how administrative and research datasets of government departments can provide a platform. At this stage, in the field of skills planning, South Africa is progressing through the early phases of e-government systems development. Contact: mmvisser@hsrc.ac.za

A key missing dataset critical for skills planning is to measure the match between PSET and labour markets, in terms of graduate destinations. Michael Rogan and John Reynolds address this task, in their paper "Schooling inequality, higher education and the labour market: evidence from a graduate tracer study in the Eastern Cape, South Africa". Contact: M.Rogan@ru.ac.za

Through an in-depth case study, Michael Gastrow, Glenda Kruss and Il-haam Petersen explore how actors working in an economic growth sector prioritised by the state — the hosting of the Square Kilometer Array telescope — planned to meet future skills needs and built skills development and innovation networks. Their paper demonstrates how capabilities can be built, in a highly unequal society like South Africa, and draws out systemic insights for similar initiatives. Contact: mgastrow@hsrc.ac.za

Volker Wedekind and Sybert Mutereko return to earlier debates on higher education responsiveness, through reflecting on the case of a university of technology programme. They demonstrate how vocational education and training providers can build partnerships with industry to match sectoral skills needs more effectively, to address skills mismatches. Contact: Volker.wedekind@wits.ac.za

Angelique Wildschut and Tamylynne Meyer also use a case study approach to investigate specific artisanal trades, to show why it is important to understand the changing nature of work, occupations and identities when planning to grow artisanal skills to address skills shortages. Contact: awildschut@hsrc.ac.za

Finally, in "Bridging skills demand and supply in South Africa”, Il-haam Petersen, Glenda Kruss, Simon McGrath and Michael Gastrow argue why it is important to understand the roles played by public and private sector intermediaries in linking sectoral labour market demand and the provision of graduates from universities and colleges. Contact: ipetersen@hsrc.ac.za