Human resources development and the skills crisis in South Africa: the need for a multi-pronged strategy
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This article presents a critique of the 'high skills' argument which, in the international literature, presents a high skill strategy as an adjunct and necessary condition for the successful expansion of human resources development (HRD) alongside social market institutions and 'joined up' policy. For a developing country such as South Africa, with a large proportion of its populace unemployed and possessing very low levels of skill, a privileging of high skills is inappropriate as the single focus of HRD. The article argues the case for a multi-pronged HRD approach, comprising a joint high-skill and intermediate-skill strategy on the supply side, underpinned by a demand-driven strategy that seeks to stimulate large-scale labour-absorbing employment growth and is supported by appropriate inputs of training for the unemployed. The analysis then examines the actual skills deficit in South Africa in each of the three (high, intermediate and low) skill bands, drawing on evidence from the recent HRD Review 2003 ( HSRC, 2003 ). The article concludes that the skills problem in South Africa relates not only to high-skill needs but also to intermediate and low-skill needs.