Return of skilled professionals only half the battle

By on April 2, 2014

Almost 360 000 skilled professionals have returned to South Africa since 2008, yet there remains a huge skills gap with a shortage of around 800 000 skilled professionals, according to Adcorp data.

This highlights the urgent need for interventions to encourage the youth of South Africa to pursue careers that can address this need, according to Mike Jackson, Chief Executive Officer at PPS. A greater focus on skills development from a basic education level is necessary in order to address the skills shortage in the country. “By enabling and encouraging the youth to pursue professional careers they will also have more and higher paid job opportunities available to them,” says Jackson.

He notes that graduate professionals have always remained confident in the job opportunities available to them in their chosen profession. Latest data from the PPS Professional Confidence Index shows that 78 percent of the respondents were confident in the future of their profession over the next five years.

However, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed in order for adequate skills development to become a reality, says Jackson. “Mainly, a greater focus on increasing mathematics graduates and reducing the cost of education.”

The Department of Education statistics show that only 26.1 percent of 2013 matric candidates who wrote mathematics achieved a pass mark of 50 percent and above. This is in line with the findings of the PPS results that revealed 94 percent of the graduate professional respondents remain highly concerned about the lack of mathematics and science graduates in South Africa.

Addressing the low rate of mathematics graduates is a logical step towards opening more opportunities for employment in South Africa, says Jackson. “Mathematics remains a core subject for many professions, such as those in the financial services, engineering and medical fields.”

In addition to the low rate of mathematics in the country, the cost of education is also a major hindrance to the creation of skilled professionals, says Jackson. “90 percent of the respondents to our survey indicated that they are concerned about the rising cost of education.”

It is time for industry stakeholders to look at more innovative ways to make education more accessible to the youth, says Jackson.

While there are many opportunities for skilled professionals in the country, there are also a number of pertinent issues that need to be addressed in order to generate these professionals, he says. “The collaboration of Government, industry bodies, and professional associations is vital to make this possible,” concludes Jackson.


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