Skills gap in SA “a growing concern”

DID YOU KNOW: Only 28 per cent of South African employers say they are helping employees build skills.
October 2, 2017
Globally, assisting employees to grow their skills set and to prosper in the workplace is a top priority for many.

Photo: Pixabay. For illustrative purposes.

 The critical skills gap in South Africa is of growing concern in many industries, according to an annual Deloitte Human Capital Trends Report.

The report states that it is thus surprising that employers are not investing more significantly in Learning and Development (L&D). It’s said only 28 per cent of South African employers say they are helping employees build skills. About 30 per cent of companies say they do not have clear career paths for employees within their organisations.

This is in stark contrast to the statistics of other countries.

The report indicates that globally, 83 per cent of executives have identified L&D as crucial. In response to this, many organisations have started to help employees with continuous L&D to overcome the critical skills gap in various industries. Assisting employees to grow their skills set and to prosper in the workplace is a top priority for many.

In addition, the report shows that locally, only 58 per cent of organisations described themselves as being prepared when it comes to how employers manage careers and deliver learning and development. This positions South Africa as ‘not ready’, according to the report.

Tarryn Mason, Managing Director of Progression, said if corporate South Africa does not invest more of its time, energy and resources into L&D, the skills gap will continue to grow and hinder the progress of companies and the country.

“The results of the report indicate that many South African corporates are taking a more reactive approach to skills development. We need to be implementing sustainable strategies that will provide continuous long-term results.

“It is clear that corporates can no longer rely on government to bridge the skills gap. For corporates to remain profitable and competitive, they need to ensure that the relevant skills required in their industries are being taught to their future workforces.”

Tarryn went on, saying, “An ideal way to do this is to identify individuals in their pre-tertiary education stage and map out career paths that align with the needs of the organisation. By identifying and coaching these individuals early in their development, not only will businesses reduce the skills deficit in their organisations, but they will ensure they do not have to compete with other large corporates in the race to snatch up the limited and in-demand university graduates.

“Learnerships can also play a significant role in bridging the skills gap in South Africa. Empowering and developing individuals through NQF-accredited learning programmes is a valuable and effective way to upskill the workforce and, in turn, give the economy the boost it needs. In addition, learnerships also provide organisations with valuable points for their B-BBEE scorecard,” she concluded.


Tips on retaining and attracting talent

Employees want competitive pay, regular feedback. Firms must work to be top employers.
Eleanor Becker  /  9 May 2017 13:00

Employee engagement is becoming increasingly important, not only to attract and retain good talent, but to get the most out of a workforce. Employees want competitive pay, regular feedback, dynamic and current leadership and flexibility.

In its 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey, Deloitte found that organisational culture, engagement, and employee brand proposition are top priorities this year. Nearly 80% of executives rated employee experience very important or important; but only 22% said their companies were excellent at building a differentiated employee experience.

The survey states that a strong employee experience will in turn drive a strong customer experience.

Engagement is about how employees think, act and feel; how attracted they are to the organisation and how activated (high performing) they are, says Leslie Yuill, Deloitte actuarial, rewards and analytics lead.

The “holy grail” of engagement is the high-flyer employees. Highly activated and attractive to the organisation, they build good relations with employees and perform well.

Grumpy Gen X

In the 2017 Deloitte Best Company Survey, Generation X employees shocked reviewers in having the highest dissatisfaction levels with their employers or companies they work for, as compared to millennials.

“Gen X didn’t seem able to be pleased,” said Yuill. The highest levels of dissatisfaction were around pay.

The Deloitte sample was spread out age-wise, with 37% Gen X, 45% millennials and 18% baby boomers. Apart from the finding mentioned above, engagement and disengagement cut across organisations, and wasn’t defined by gender, race or generation.

Employees in surveyed organisations were particularly irked by competitive pay and benefits; equal pay and opportunity; trust; leadership; open and honest communication; feedback without fear of consequences; genuine care and concern; and delivering on promises.

Positively, about 68% of this year’s participants felt engaged.

A new order

But spare a thought for employers trying to keep up with an ever-changing world.

Trevor Page, Deloitte organisation transformation and talent leader, says the pace of digital change is moving faster than anyone can adapt to.

A challenge in employing technology is that younger talent is more savvy than those in leadership roles, who determine how much tech is used and tend to be baby boomers and Gen Xers. They don’t adapt as quickly as the younger talent you want to attract and retain, Ndivhu Nepfumbada, PPC cement group human resources executive, says.

Younger generations prefer to use tech rather than do things manually, and want to be able to work remotely. Organisations will need to attract and retain them.

“The human capital game has changed. The playing field has shifted. In this digital age there are new rules for everything,” says Yuill.

Getting the most from employees

Create an encouraging environment. To motivate top employees, give them a sense of purpose; create an environment where they feel empowered to work and can perform and innovate… “where people are without fear of backlash [and know] it’s ok to fail, but try,” says Nepfumbada.

Old dogs, learn new tricks. “A leader should not be the star of the show, but make sure it’s a great show. It’s no longer about you as a leader driving performance; it’s about building and leading teams constructively.

Traditional models assume leaders know best. When these leaders got negative feedback from employees, they were offended, unhappy with the messenger and didn’t deal with underlying issues. “We need a new breed of leader who isn’t offended by ongoing feedback,” he says. 

Give employees feedback. Dan Schawbel on Forbes here, says more employees want continuous feedback on their performance. Annual performance reviews may phase out, in favour of more regular interactions.

Measure. Deloitte’s global trends survey suggests firms use candidate, stay and exit interviews, as well as ongoing performance conversations “to build a complete, real-time understanding of the issues your employees face”.

Stand up HR. Nepfumbada advises HR managers to be bold enough to challenge the status quo in their organisations. 

Set them free. With apologies to a popular saying, if you invest in your employees, [don’t be afraid to] set them free. “High performers tend to want to change frequently – sometimes organisations don’t have room for growth for them. Sometimes what the organisation may see as the future in terms of their careers may not fit in with the [employee’s] aspirations,” she says, adding that these people could come back with a different outlook after having worked elsewhere.

“Millennials get bored very quickly and have a three-year career outlook,” said Aon South Africa head of employee engagement Zanele Dintwa, at a Gibs forum in February. Rather than see this as a threat, she advised organisations to create opportunities within which these employees can move and learn, as well as stay and contribute.

Then there are those who – no matter what you do – were not meant to be in your organisation, but end up there and are unhappy. “Ensure those people don’t become overwhelming in your organisation,” says Page.

Fix it. “Find out where your problem is – and do something about it.”

Much disengagement starts with dissonance in personal and the organisation’s values. In different areas in the organisation – whose culture may be empowering and enabling – leaders may create a subculture that doesn’t engender the organisation’s values, explains Nepfumbada. “People don’t leave organisations; they leave managers.”

Source - Moneyweb

ISS Today: Employment must be central to South Africa’s economy

14 AUG 2017 01:18 (SOUTH AFRICA)

South Africa must trim its excesses, and make work more accessible for more people. By Jakkie Cilliers for ISS TODAY.

First published by ISS Today

Only an economy where employment is placed at the centre of economic policymaking will work for South Africa. This will require a complete shift in mindset.

To achieve rapid growth, South Africa needs foreign and domestic investment, and that requires confidence in the future, which, in turn, requires stability and political coherence. It needs the involvement of all sectors of society – rural and urban, rich and poor.

That means increasing the supply of skilled workers through improved education and by encouraging inward migration of skilled people and a more flexible labour market. It also means investing in healthcare and infrastructure to increase the productivity of workers.

South Africa should not, of course, abandon its efforts at global change through membership of Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and other clubs. But evolution is more likely than revolution, and economic diplomacy is not well served by constantly criticising some of our major trading partners while remaining silent on the excesses of others.

Of these objectives, finding a way to create a more flexible labour market remains the least likely. But an environment needs to be created in which employers are willing to take on new entrants to the labour market so they can accumulate the required work experience to make them valuable and productive employees. This will happen only if employers can also terminate employment contracts under reasonable circumstances. 

On a practical level, South Africa need look no further than the 18 million still living in the former homelands who are locked into poverty. In line with the approach advanced by Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto Polar, the transfer of communal to individual private property rights in these areas would empower many rural South Africans.

This way, dead capital would become bankable assets. Most of the land in these areas belongs to the government, and not to the communal leaders. The transfer of land to individual ownership is a prerequisite for rural transformation and growth. Such change requires a modernist government committed to economic growth as a priority, not to the traditionalist policies and ‘big man’ leadership of yesteryear.

No growth path will succeed if improvements in productivity don’t outpace wage increases. The National Development Plan, explains Nicoli Nattrass at the University of Cape Town, proposes to compensate workers for their wage restraint “by lowering their cost of living … whilst continuing to support skill development and productivity growth in dynamic economic sectors where there is more space for wages to grow without undermining employment or profitability”.

However, she says, the “counter-narrative about higher wages necessarily being good for productivity and economic growth is standing in the way of any kind of employment-promoting class compromise in South Africa”.

A growth orientated, employment-intensive pathway inevitably means reviewing and cutting back on the 700 or so state-owned enterprises that give a miserly 2.9% average return on investment.

A first step could be to ensure that all these enterprises have proper boards of directors, with the relevant commercial and other expertise, who can run them in a financially responsible manner. These companies should also be subject to comprehensive and independent performance audits, including tender processes and risk-management frameworks. The results should be made public and form the basis for the newly constituted boards of directors to take things forward.

There are instances where state control and leadership are needed, such as investment in strategic manufacturing sectors, state support of research and development, and so on. But state-owned enterprises in the mainstream economy, such as South African Airways, that perennially under-perform should be self-sustaining or be sold off.

It means ending the subsidies whereby Cuban engineers and medical doctors are imported at great cost to the taxpayer instead of employing South Africans or encouraging skilled inward migration, which is free. It means cutting back on perks for government ministers and officials. It means a state that is committed to quality.

South Africa generally has a higher cost structure than most other countries at comparative levels of development. Government consumption in South Africa is 30% of GDP, roughly double the global average for upper-middle income countries and some 8% higher than the average for high-income countries.

Admittedly, some of this expenditure is due to social grant payments, but nevertheless, the management of South Africa is too expensive. There are too many unproductive senior officials and too few at lower levels who actually do things like teaching, policing and providing health care.

We need a strong, capable state as a regulator of a much larger private sector. The state must be an investor in key sectors to spur innovation, to direct much more research and development funding, and, above all, to channel resources in a manner that deals with the historical legacy of apartheid.

But a strong state doesn’t need to be a big state, and the current trend that has seen the steady increase in the size of the civil service while outsourcing core government functions to a network of patronage clients must be reversed.

There are many reforms that could derive greater efficiency from the government and reduce corruption. For example, amendments to laws and the Constitution to remove the powers of the president to appoint directors-general (often against the wishes of ministers) and the requirement for merit-based appointments (including cabinet appointments) based on minimum education qualifications are obvious starting points.

A second reform would be limiting cadre deployment, and instead appointing and promoting senior managers and officials based on merit and qualifications. Then there is the obvious need to reduce the size of the cabinet to probably half its current number, to consolidate ministries and departments, and do away with most deputy ministers.

Other obvious reforms would be to strengthen the legal powers of the Auditor-General to allow for the enforcement of its recommendations. This would help to rein in South Africa’s 35 national government departments, nine provinces, 278 municipalities and more than 120 state entities.

Although the Auditor-General enjoys relative freedom in South Africa, institutions are not compelled to heed his audit findings. This too needs to change. DM

This article is an extract from Fate of the Nation written by Jakkie Cilliers and published by Jonathan Ball


07 August 2017
Source:  http://
 South Africa’s unemployment rate stood at 27.7% in the second quarter of 2017, unchanged from the previous quarter and unchanged from its 14-year high according to data from Statistics South Africa.

In its quarterly labour force survey, which polls households, Statistics South Africa said this amounted to 6.177 million people without jobs in the three months to end June, compared with 6.214 million previously, a decline of 113,000 people.  The figure reflected drops in the construction and agriculture sectors, among others. The number of people employed in the trade, finance, manufacturing and utilities sectors increased slightly.

Meanwhile, the number of formal sector jobs declined by 144,000 from the March to June period, however the informal sector added 80,000 jobs over the same period.

The figures also showed that the number of job seekers has declined by 37,000 people to approximately 6.3 million, reducing South Africa’s labour force participation rate to 59.9%, from 60.5% in the first quarter.