Deputy President David Mabuza says the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative and cumulative effect on the mandate of the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC).
The mandate of the HRDC includes monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the Human Resource Development Strategy.
"We thus have a mammoth task, as the council, to recalibrate and return to the achievement of the goals of the Human Resource Development Strategy," Mabuza said.
Addressing a virtual meeting of the Human Resource Development Council on Wednesday, Mabuza said it is critical to reflect on the implementation of the Human Resource Development Strategy, in light of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan announced by the President to respond to the negative impact of COVID-19.
"Needless to say, the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan is not being implemented in a vacuum. It builds on the government priorities and plans articulated in the National Development Plan.
"We are confronted by objective conditions that make the work of the Human Resource Development Council important, inarguably, unlike at any other time in the democratic South Africa."
Mabuza said COVID-19 has made more urgent the need to develop skills and training that is innovation-led, entrepreneurial-focused and technologically advanced.
"We live in a dynamic, fluid and fast-changing context, where life-long learning is a fact of life.
"We are called upon to adequately respond to young people who are digital natives, adept with Information and Communication Technologies, and are demanding skills and expertise that will enable them to adapt adequately to changing workplace and technological demands."
Mabuza said addressing youth unemployment is in the best interest of the nation, if the country is to be globally competitive.
"We no longer exist in a time where a person can survive on knowing only one skill and occupy one career path.
"Instead, the 21st century requires people, who can transcend academic disciplines, transcend the artificial distinctions between the soft and hard sciences, bridge the divides between theory and knowledge, and match classroom learning with market demands," Mabuza said.
He called on young people to assist government to popularise the occupations identified in the National List of Occupations in High Demand.
Mabuza said these professions, which are critical to lowering joblessness and growing the economy, are mainly those of artisans, including pressure welders, toolmakers and mechanics.
"While identifying vocational training and TVET colleges as strategic interventions, we are equally aware of the structural challenges at these colleges, including curricula, lack of resources and inadequate infrastructure.
"Therefore, the COVID-19 pandemic represents a new knowledge economy that demands new capacities, so-called e-skills or e-readiness to adequately build a capable state, an inclusive economy and fight poverty and inequality," he said.
Mabuza said as HRDC members, their role extends beyond merely provision of oversight, coordination of programmes but also includes thought leadership.
"As the Presidential Employment Stimulus Package has demonstrated, there is appetite across South Africa to provide young people and young women with economic opportunities.
"This stimulus programme can grow if organised business, civil society and labour play an active role in efforts of rebuilding the economy.
"The private sector is a key partner in making local investment, helping small business to grow and thrive, and assisting to close the skills mismatch that disadvantages young people not in employment, education or training," Mabuza said.