South Africa: Our Skills Problem Cannot Be Fixed Outside of the Economy - It Must Be Part of the Messy Process of Structural Change


Education players should be embedded into economic planning processes focused on growing sectors of the economy, instead of skills being seen as something to be specified by the economy in order to be 'produced' by the education system.

Professor Stephanie Allais is a professor of education and SARCHi research chair in skills development at the Centre for Researching Education and Labour (REAL) at the University of Witwatersrand.

We have recently had stark reminders of the underlying systemic challenges facing South Africa, especially poverty, high levels of youth unemployment and poor and inadequate service delivery.

There are no easy fixes to addressing these problems. Take youth unemployment which has been explored in Daily Maverick. Rebone Tau argues that the solution lies in fixing the TVET system to ensure a focus on technical skills, as opposed to youth getting a university education.

Glen Mills suggests that industry players and tertiary institutions should "seize the initiative and demonstrate dynamic leadership" to ensure partnerships between colleges and employers and to ensure that employers train.

Certainly, the vocational education sector needs more of the post-school budget, as Mills argues, and certainly, we need better coordination in government (and within and between the myriad skills-linked structures),...

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