CEOs worry about skills shortage in South Africa
South Africa’s workforce must redouble its efforts to become a more effective contributor to the country’s economy.
Skills development and recruitment firm Afrika Tikkun Services (ATS) said workers must take responsibility and get on with the job of developing the skills that will keep them relevant and beneficial to the home and the economy.
“It is important that economic empowerment ensures that people acquire the skills that translate into real economic activity,” says ATS CEO Onyi Nwaneri.
Inequality will not end in a failing economy
“While the argument for a living wage can be understood, employers at company level express that many workers in South Africa are under-qualified and show limited skills in performing their jobs. tasks,” Nwaneri said.
Industry players have maintained that South Africa is among the most expensive workers compared to other developing countries, despite crippling inequalities.
South African employers operate in an unequal society that demands redress for the injustices of apartheid, but this alone cannot justify policies that may impede economic progress.
The national minimum wage paralyzing SMEs
The controversial National Minimum Wage (NMW) might offer a small victory for workers, but it has undermined the ability of small businesses to experience business growth.
This will only reduce SA’s workforce into a smaller, more expensive and under-skilled workforce.
At the same time, many traditional occupations are changing, making some jobs obsolete while others will require workers to upgrade their skills to stay relevant in their profession.
“Since companies have few organic incentives to keep these jobs open as technology evolves, the onus will be on workers to remain employable with skills that meet the changing needs of the employer,” Nwaneri stressed.
A recent report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows that 87% of South African CEOs are most concerned about a skills shortage in their organization.
“We need to look at what other emerging economies are doing well when it comes to maintaining job numbers and what are the best practices followed by companies that maintain the relevance and abundance of skills in their workforce. work,” says Nwaneri.
Low productivity drags economy down
The latest official productivity data suggests that the South African workforce is lagging behind in terms of productivity, falling 5.03% year-on-year in December 2021.
According to the Census and Economic Information Center (CEIC), there has been a significant decline in labor and multifactor productivity.
Productivity SA, a government agency that promotes job growth, said these productivity trends reflect a decline in creativity, or innovation, as the main factor behind the collapse in productivity over the past of this period.
“We need to do a lot more learning on how to approach this problem taking into account the lessons of other developing countries.
“There also needs to be a greater discussion about how labor is protected on the company and not beholden to a free market, which makes it difficult to manage unproductive labor,” Nwaneri says.
Studies have shown that excessive regulation and an unproductive workforce discourage investment.
Frontier Economics economists found in 2012 that higher levels of employment protection legislation (EPL) could have a positive and negative impact on innovation.
But the impact on overall productivity growth is more likely to be negative. The report also found a negative relationship between higher EPL and investment.
Reconciling social reparation and economic realities
Falling jobs and a growing skills gap in South Africa’s most vital economic sectors are occurring as global pressures demand that the economy produce large numbers of young, skilled and productive workers.
“Failure to do so means South Africa could face an economy of pensioners and low-skilled workers.”
CEO of ATS, Onyi Nwaneri.
“Now is the time for job seekers and employed workers to embrace an attitude of empowerment that begins with learning the skills that allow workers to stay productive and contribute to the economy,” ATS insists.
Complacency in the face of a 66% youth unemployment rate and falling labor productivity figures is not an option if South Africa is to weather the socio-economic turmoil.
Ensuring that more South Africans acquire the relevant skills and access economic opportunities will create a more professionalised labor market.
This will ensure increased employment capacity at all levels of the economy, mitigating the volatility faced by entry-level and informal sector job seekers.
Compiled by Narissa Subramoney
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