Inspired by Andile Khumalo who wrote a great article titled “What does Mangaung mean to Entrepreneurs”. I thought I would also investigate the following: What does Mangaung mean for Skills Development?
In his political report delivered on Sunday, 16 December 2012 at the ANC 53rd National Conference, President Jacob Zuma referred extensively to the National Development Plan (NDP), which is essentially South Africa’s vision for 2030. In my quest to assess what Mangaung would mean for Skills Development I then endeavoured to read this long but very important document which I doubt many people have even bothered to browse through. While the achievement of the objectives of the National Development Plan requires progress on a broad front, three priorities stand out:
1. Raising employment through faster economic growth
2. Improving the quality of education, skills development and innovation and
3. Building the capability of the state to play a developmental, transformative role.
I was actually amazed at how thorough the NDP is regarding the issue of skills development, particularly for young people. Amongst others, the NDP purports:
South Africa has an urbanising, youthful population. This presents an opportunity to boost economic growth, increase employment and reduce poverty. The Commission, recognising that young people bear the brunt of unemployment, has adopted a “youth lens” in preparing its proposals, which include:
· Improve the school system, including increasing the number of students achieving above 50 percent in literacy and mathematics, increasing learner retention rates to 90 percent and bolstering teacher training.
· Strengthen youth service programmes and introduce new, community-based programmes to offer young people life-skills training, entrepreneurship training and opportunities to participate in community development programmes.
· Strengthen and expand the number of FET colleges to increase the participation rate to 25 percent.
· Increase the graduation rate of FET colleges to 75 percent.
· Provide full funding assistance covering tuition, books, accommodation and living allowance to students from poor families.
· Develop community safety centres to prevent crime and include youth in these initiatives.
· A tax incentive to employers to reduce the initial cost of hiring young labour-market entrants.
· A subsidy to the placement sector to identify, prepare and place matric graduates into work. The subsidy will be paid upon successful placement.
· Expand Learnerships and make training vouchers directly available to job seekers.
· A formalised graduate recruitment scheme for the public service to attract highly skilled people.
· Expand the role of state-owned enterprises in training artisans and technical professionals.
Unlike Andile who managed to find some gaps in the policy documents of the ANC with regards to Entrepreneurship; I am totally impressed with the thoroughness of the NDP in addressing the skills challenges in the country.
There’s only one problem: most of the delegates at Mangaung are less interested in policy discussions, including the NDP, as they are in the leadership race. In fact even the President and the cabinet did not speak much about the NDP until now at the opening of the National Conference of the ANC. I therefore propose Mr. President that after all the excitement of the conference; we go back to the National Development Plan and implement this great vision.
I know the President reads my blog so I will be waiting for your call, Mr. President.