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Good Business Basics: SA faces skills shortage


They also have to become more studied in enforcing their annual performance targets on their grant recipients, so that only the best performing candidates continue to receive funding.

A recent report by student funding scheme NSFAS revealed that only 12 percent of the more than 400 000 applications received for 2019 have applied for financial aid to study at colleges. Universities continue to receive the bulk of the applications.

Vijay Naidoo, chairman of the South Coast Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

This is an alarming and concerning statistic in my view, given the high levels of unemployment amongst university graduates, mainly caused by what the CEO of the National Skills Fund (NSF), Mvuyisi Maikima refers to as students opting for ‘soft’ university degrees.

Free tertiary education

The NSF was ‘raided’ to the tune of more than R6bn over the last two years to fund the promise of free higher education made by outgoing president, Jacob Zuma. The NSF’s mission is to improve and fund the regeneration of the artisans and technical skills base of the country, a key goal of the National Development Plan to train 30 000 artisans a year by 2030.

The situation will only get worse in my view, as the Minister of Higher Education Naledi Pandor has just proposed a further lowering of the bar for Senior Certificate candidates to qualify for university entrance. Renowned educationalist Jonathan Jansen, writing for Times Live, is scathing in his criticism of this move, saying all it will lead to is ‘more students suffering the illusion that they qualify for a bachelor’s degree’.

Churning out unemployable university graduates funded by public money is a luxury we can no longer afford.

Corrective action

So how can we start correcting this situation? Firstly NSFAS has got to begin being more discriminating in the awarding of funding by ensuring that the courses chosen at university are more aligned with the needs of the country.

They also have to become more studied in enforcing their annual performance targets on their grant recipients, so that only the best performing candidates continue to receive funding.

Secondly, parents have to become more informed and involved in the choices made by their children entering tertiary education. While the achievement of a university degree is viewed with a high level of admiration by family members, an unemployed or unemployable graduate quickly loses the ‘cachet’ amongst the community.

Thirdly, government needs to do more marketing and advocacy about the scarce skills needed by the economy, and the value of vocational training. Obviously the dismal performance of the FET, not TVET colleges, needs to be addressed simultaneously.

After matriculating, Vijay Naidoo studied Economics in the UK. Upon his return, hejoined the family construction business as MD for 10 years.

He subsequently joined his sister in their furniture manufacturing business as director for quality assurance and operations. He was responsible for all quality aspects of their products, and led the project to the business achieving an ISO 9000 quality accreditation. As an export focused business, this was important for our international competitiveness.

Mr Naidoo has an abiding interest in quality management and productivity improvement, particularly in manufacturing.

More recently, he has focused a lot of his time on giving back to the community by way of mentorship of small businesses and sitting on the executive of the South Coast Chamber of Commerce. He also sits on the Board of the Ugu South Coast Development Agency.



Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER

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