The developmental state, two economies, and the implications for skills development in the public sector: conceptual issues
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Ten years after a democratic transition the development context of South Africa continues to be defined by severe social and economic problems and disparities. As with many spheres of society the state's capacity to respond to these conditions has had to confront significant internal and external challenges. These have included the difficult task of carrying out large-scale institutional restructuring and rationalisation as well as human resource transformation, which is paving the way for a more concentrated response to the state's skills and competency-based requirements in order to respond more effectively to the external circumstances. At the same time the state bureaucracy cannot remain at arm?s length from the complex externalities emanating from a society that has developed substantial cleavages over the years. It is within this context that the concepts of the 'developmental state' and the 'two economies' have emerged in discourse on state capacity for development. The objective of this position paper is to consider the normative dimensions of the terms and what they might imply for defining the appropriateness of the skills, training and general human resource provisioning in the state sector. The argument being proposed by this paper is that South African environment heightens the sensitivity accompanying the developmental state's balancing of its autonomy to coherently and unhinderdly pursue its development strategy, its embeddedness with social groupings to effect necessary development changes, and the extent to which its accountability is considered legitimate in view of the measures taken. This Paper will conclude by offering some guiding pointers for bureaucratic coherency, cohesiveness and orientation.