Tag Archives: soft skills development

Why does SA not have what it takes to be a ‘breakout nation’?

In an extract taken “Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles” Ruchir Sharma (Head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investment Management) maintains South Africa does not have what it takes because it seems that “The steadfastness [shown at the start of the new dispensation] is starting to look like stagnation”.
Much progress has been made in the socio-economic area. However, in trying to ease the pain of previously disadvantaged through social welfare grants, South Africa has not done itself any good in encouraging productivity. Instead it is becoming a welfare state at the expense of real growth. Today, SA is the only major country with more people receiving social grants than holding down jobs; here are 16-million receiving social grants, six times more than there were in 1998. The ANC is backed by its allies in perhaps the most powerful union movement in the developing world. But none of these power centres — not the state, not the private companies, not the ANC or its union allies — seems to have much sense of urgency about ramping up growth.
To drive employment and growth, there has been much talk about skills development and training and job creation; many plans and programmes have been set up but no progress is being made. There is either too much red tape and regulations; a sense of entitlement in the minds of job seekers; lack of skills, labour problems and debilitating pay demands; lack of commitment on the part of big business, and other factos slowing down the rate of growth.
It seems it is up to small enterprises to take the lead in training people to at least be able to function effectively in a work environment. Apart from focusing on the technical skills training like plumbing, accounting, computers etc., we must also invest in “soft skills” development: improved communication skills, leadership skills, ethics and critical thinking in business, to name a few.
We’re up for it, but are government and big business going to support our initiative?