Changes in the South African education system: in search for economic growth

OUTPUT TYPE: Conference or seminar papers
TITLE AUTHOR(S): J.C.Erasmus, S.C.Steyn
Intranet: HSRC Library: shelf number 2160
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/8701

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Concurrent with South Africa's democratic elections in 1994 the government signed the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Uruguay Round, which accelerated the integration of our economy into the global marketplace. The global labour market is characterized by constant change (to the benefit of skilled workers) and the progressive destruction of jobs (affecting especially semiskilled and unskilled workers). South Africa re-entered the world economy with several disadvantages of which an exceptionally high unemployment rate and a low-skilled labour force were the most challenging. Each year over the past decade increasing numbers of jobs have been destroyed in South Africa. There are virtually no jobs for the hundreds of thousands of (apparently better qualified) new entrants to the labour market, let alone the backlog of millions who have been unable to find a job or who cannot generate an income on their own initiative. The same shifts, observed in global economies, are occurring in South Africa. The challenge facing South Africa in addressing the problem of job creation is aggravated by the fact that its labour force is predominantly low skilled, especially if comparisons are drawn with skills levels in other countries. Various innovative measures for enhancing the skills base in South Africa have been introduced since the first democratic elections in 1994. The new policies are designed to deal with the country's lack of international competitiveness and the low rates of investment in the development of human capital. Since 1994, several policies and strategies have been put in place with the aim of creating jobs in various sectors of the South African economy. Because South Africa's education and training system (and in some instances the industrial relations system) has been modelled on those in industrialised countries, problems of co-ordination between the systems may well occur. An integrated approach to the implementation of the different innovative policy frameworks by the responsible public service departments is needed.