Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) Annual Report: briefing by Deputy President
Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, together with Mr Alan Hirsch (Head of the Economic Sector in the Presidency), Ms Morojele Makano (JIPSA programme director) and top business leaders, presented JIPSA’s Annual Report. They outlined its priorities, the social partnerships that had been created, and the way forward. JIPSA arose out of the adoption of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (AsgiSA). Its task was to elevate the short supply of skills as an issue in the national agenda. Its main priorities were engineers, artisan and technical skills. Other skills targeted included city and regional planning skills, management and planning skills, and the improvement of Mathematics, Science and ICT competence in public schooling. JIPSA had formed social partnerships with Ministers, trade union leaders, CEOs and educational leaders to provide a strong base and access. The Business Trust had renewed its funding commitment to the JIPSA Secretariat. The continued support of leaders in government, labour, business and the education and training sector remained the key to success.
The Deputy President was asked to comment on what was being done to prevent the skills leakage in the medical profession and how much the Business Trust had invested in JIPSA. She was also asked to comment on the targets for artisans, and on how many artisans had been produced. The performance of the Further Education and Training (FET) colleges was also raised, and the Deputy President was asked to comment on whether the FET colleges had been a setback for JIPSA.
Q: Clarity should be provided on whether skills leakage meant the emigration of top skills out of South Africa
A: The Deputy President responded that skills leakage was another term used to describe the emigration of skills.
Q: A question was asked whether South Africa was on track on making the 2010 deadline and whether there had been any incentives aimed at attracting the necessary skills.
Q: The Deputy President was asked to comment on what was being done to prevent the skills leakage in the medical profession.
Q: Clarity should be given on how much business was spending on JIPSA
A: The Deputy President replied that on incentivising people and looking at skills demand globally, the new dispensation for remuneration by the Public Service was a form of incentive. Another incentive was to keep improving the working conditions and the conditions of service for professional skills. When it came to training, there needed to be a lot more training of people than what was needed and the Department of Education was also pushing on increasing the supply of key skills.
A: A representative from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) added that it was critical for the retention of skills to be addressed. This could be addressed through remuneration and the improvement of working conditions, and these issues were part of ongoing discussion with organised Labour.
A: Ms Makano said that Business Trust was providing R16 million up till 2009, and the money was used mainly to support the activities of the JIPSA Secretariat.
A: The Deputy President noted that funding of JIPSA activities depended on the budget of a particular department. For example the Department of Education would be charged with supporting and improving the number of graduates. Therefore it was up to the Department to ensure that there was money available for the support and the training of the graduates.
A: Mr Hirsh added that, in terms of targets, the AsgiSA targets were ahead of the growth and investment targets, and there was great confidence that JIPSA will meet the required targets.
Q: Clarity should be provided on the targets for artisans, and how many artisans had been produced. Comment should also be made on whether the FET colleges were a setback for JIPSA and what South Africa was doing to promote skills immigration.
Q: A question was asked on the FET colleges engineering targets. Clarity should be provided on how the colleges planned on producing 5000 engineers, when the pass rate for maths and sciences was very poor, especially at the higher grade level.
Q: The Deputy President should comment on whether the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets for 2014 would be met in terms of unemployment and poverty
A: Bobby Godsell, AngloGold Ashanti representative, commented that the world had changed within the past 3 to 6 months. A large part of the developed world was in recession, and the emerging markets, especially in Africa, were positively received by investors. There was massive infrastructural development underway in Africa, and soon there would be a return flow of engineers to South Africa. Most of the developed nations also faced real challenges and it should be noted that South Africa was less in debt than most of the world’s nations.
A: A Department of Labour representative said that the performance in the FET sector had been good, but the areas of mathematics and mathematical literacy still remained a challenge. However additional support was being provided. On the labour front, 18 000 artisans had been produced in the labour sector and an increase in the number of artisans trained was expected in the next few years. It was very encouraging to see the performance of the students participating in mathematics and mathematical literacy. The numbers were expected to improve with the support that was being provided.
A: The Deputy President added that more engineers needed to be produced, and people that were technically competent. The Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) had also been asked to reprioritize their funding in order to provide support to artisans. It was important to import the senior skills in order to produce local jobs. In terms of engineers that were targeted, there was a focus on how many needed to be produced in the country, and these numbers were not only the responsibility of the university. There was work within the private sector where skills training also took place.
Q: The Deputy President was asked to comment on the planned numbers for import of higher level ICT skills
A: The Deputy President replied that the import of entry level ICT skills was not necessary, as training would take place. The more complex the skills, the higher the import of skills was needed.
Meeting was adjourned.