Skills shortages threaten economic growth - statement by Chief SZ Ntapane, MP (UDM Spokesperson on Finance) (3 November 2009)

The UDM is concerned about the widespread skills shortages in the South African economy. Today there are separate reports of critical skills shortages in two widely different, but important, economic sectors, namely accounting and engineering (in the steel industry).

What these reports indicate is that the South African economy will be constrained by severe shortages of important skills. This creates a greater dilemma in the medium-term, because when the rest of the world’s economy begins to recover our economy will lag due to this built-in constraint to growth.

Government has a two-fold responsibility:
Firstly, Government needs to address the continued failure of the education system to produce pupils capable of graduating with the critical skills our economy requires. On the face of it the OBE experiment is prejudicing an entire generation, who will struggle to qualify with useful skills.

Secondly, Government must address those factors that cause our limited skills workforce to leave our country for greener pastures. In this regard the ridiculous crime situation – and Government’s desperate “Wild West” shoot-to-kill rhetoric – is probably the single biggest factor fuelling the brain-drain.

The ruling party’s inability to address these two most basic of governance responsibilities has caused untold suffering in the past decade and ensured that SA remains on a pitifully low economic growth trajectory.