Rethinking the high skills thesis in South Africa

SOURCE: Shifting understandings of skills in South Africa: overcoming the historical imprint of a low skills regime
OUTPUT TYPE: Chapter in Monograph
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2004
TITLE AUTHOR(S): A.Kraak
SOURCE EDITOR(S): S.McGrath, A.Badroodien, A.Kraak, L.Unwin
KEYWORDS: HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT, SKILLS DEVELOPMENT
DEPARTMENT: Education and Skills Development (ESD)
Web link: http://www.hsrcpublishers.ac.za/full_title_info.asp?id=2040
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 2546

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Abstract

This chapter interrogates the usefulness of the high skills thesis in South Africa. The high-skills transition is characterised as all-embracing and pervasive in the international literature. The discussion starts with a more intensive engagement with and critique of the theory of high skills. It then reviews the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) in the new theoretical light, and suggests that it is a good example of the alternate model proposed, which emphasises simultaneous upskilling in the low, intermediate and high skills sectors of the South African economy. The analysis then goes on to interrogate the feasibility of this ambitious project. The chapter concludes that several structural factors, some global, others political, economic as well as operational, will act to limit this simultaneous multi-layered upskilling at the low, intermediate and high skills sector.