I have decided to write this week’s post around a topic that is close to my heart. It is also a topic that comes up time and time again and I am frequently called upon to comment on it. One thing I can assure you is that it is not only a South African problem, but actually it’s a global issue too.

As a Talent Acquisition Specialist, we are often only given the orders that cannot be filled by a company’s internal recruitment team. They probably have been looking for these skills for over a year with no success. When the internal recruiters decide that this skill does not exist – they hand the order over to external recruiters. This is where recruiters can earn their weight in gold. We make it our duty, and responsibility, to stay connected with people with scarce skills. (To be honest, these skills often do exist, Companies just do not always have the budgets to pay for them. But more on this in another Blog)

It has been a pattern of late that more South Africans are returning to South Africa, than those that are emigrating. With this reversal of the Brain Drain, we getting some fantastic skills and talent flooding back into the market place. We need to embrace these new skills and employ people with overseas working experience as this will help to share their knowledge and to grow their colleague’s skill sets. In order to do this, Businesses need to be more lenient on their policies – are the BEE stats that important that you lose vital skills by not hiring a certain demographic of returnees? Are you going to allow these returnees to live in Cape Town (as they all want to) and work from home 3 days a week?

You may wonder why this topic is close to my heart. It’s because I am a qualified teacher who is no longer working as a teacher and therefore I am no longer making a positive contribution to the lives of today’s youth. It may be a bit of guilt creeping in, as I firmly believe that the way to getting around this skills crisis, in South Africa, is through education. I believe that if the Government focuses more attention on Education, by reducing class sizes and the speed of their textbook deliveries – South Africa would not be lagging as far behind the rest of the world when it comes to skills.

I passionately feel that people need to have a solid educational grounding in order to excel later in life. It is during children’s Primary School years that they learn vital communication skills, like reading and writing. If a love for these is not instilled in these children by the age of 12, it is something that is very difficult for them to develop later in life. If children have a love of reading and writing they will be more inclined to read, and write, for their own enjoyment and this opens up so many more opportunities for them.

So, yes, South Africa is suffering from a skills shortage but this situation can be improved tremendously if we get Business on board to assist with helping to get our graduates more hands on experience. I know we have the Government Learnership and Internship programmes but really how successful are these? If we still cannot provide people with Jobs after they have completed these programmes maybe they are not functioning as well as they should be? Maybe the issue is not even the scarce skills but with the scarce number of jobs in South Africa? Another issue that I feel business and government need to collaborate on to solve ASAP.

In a nutshell, we need to improve our Educational Standards in the country so everyone is given an equal opportunity to get a good start in life. We need to chat to Business to put their own plans in place to help Graduates gain ‘work experience’. A lot of young South Africans have Honours Degrees but no working experience – this is a problem as most clients require at least one year’s working experience before they will interview these youngsters. There are lots of way to improve this Skills Shortage but it will take lots of hard work and commitment from Government and Business to make a change.

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