South Africa is facing a skills shortfall with a number of jobs needed to help push forward the government’s post-Covid reconstruction and recovery plan, says Higher Education minister Blade Nzimande.
Addressing an education summit on Tuesday (8 March), Nzimande said that some of the key skills which are sought-after in the country right now include:
- Agricultural scientists;
- Computer network technicians;
- Concentrated solar power process controllers;
- Crop produce analysts;
- Data scientists;
- Electrical engineers;
- Gaming workers;
- Mechatronic technicians;
- Web developers.
“South Africa continues to face an ever-increasing number of people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET). The upsurge in the number of NEET suggests the need to expand access to post-school education and training opportunities in the system beyond current provisioning,” he said.
This requires Post-School Education and Training (PSET) institutions to offer a diversity of programmes not only to take account of the needs of the youth who completed schooling, but also for those who did not complete their schooling, in an integrated and articulated manner, he said.
“It should remain as a concern for all of us that over 3.4 million young South Africans, aged 15-24 are disengaged from education and work. The youth unemployment rate, measuring job-seekers between 15 and 24 years old, hit a new record high of 66.5%.
“Two million of them have not finished Grade 12, while some of them are working in the extensive informal economy.”
Nzimande said government plans to address this by repositioning the PSET sector to get more young South Africans from school into the workforce.
“Currently, our government is seized with using its own resources and internal capabilities to deal with the school-to-work transition, by investing a significant portion of its budget to support our youth with learnerships and internships and other government funded programmes that help to create mass employment,” he said.
“We all know that our failure to integrate many people into the labour market threatens social cohesion and in the South Africa context this remains of particular concern because of the over-representation of black South Africans in the NEET population.”