Intermediate-level public sector skills provision and FET colleges: expanding the agenda and widening impact
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Public sector skills development in South Africa has been brought into sharp focus as both parts of the general skills deficiency as well as the need to ensure efficient and effective service delivery. Improving capacity requires the development of skills at all tiers of public service at national, provincial and local spheres. Intermediate-level skilling (the level for functional and routine skills, distinguished from mid-managerial and higher order strategic skills) is key to effective service delivery and represents a crucial component of the development of skills in the country. This article examines current skill development provisioning at this level and proposes that FET colleges are ideally placed to provide the systemic training necessary for this level, especially in view of the establishment of the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (PALAMA) in its new role as a facilitator as opposed to a provider of public service training and its commitment to working with public and private institutions. It is argued that using existing colleges for this sector's skills development needs would not only marshal a national public resource to serve national development objectives, but will also enhance their sustainability. This will, of course, require that colleges re-position themselves to ensure that the unique needs of the sector are accommodated. The proposed changes are identified.