Approaches and methods for understanding scarce skills occupations in South Africa
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his policy brief emerges from the report, Approaches and Methods for Understanding Scarce Skills Occupations in South Africa (Powell, Reddy & Paterson, 2014)1 and proposes a methodology for estimating scarce skills occupations. The issue of skills shortages, scarce skills, and occupations in high demand (OIHD) is discussed extensively in the policy arena and the media. Skills shortages are a constraint on business operations, causing bottlenecks in production and difficulties in service delivery. While we all recognise that there are skills shortages, we must improve our strategic intelligence about the nature and extent of skills shortages, and on how government can work with its partners, especially education and training providers, to respond to these skills needs. Estimating skills shortages is a complex and sometimes confusing process. Part of the problem relates to the terminology associated with this concept: terms like 'scarce skills occupations', 'skills shortages' and ???occupations in high demand??? are used interchangeably (see Powell et al., 2014: 10). The challenge is to provide a credible and appropriate methodology for collecting and analysing data in order to estimate occupations where there are insufficient skilled people to meet labour market demands, that is, scarce skills occupations.
This policy brief will begin by providing the rationale for generating a scarce skills list and by articulating the factors that contribute to these skills shortages. We then review the experiences of a few countries which have undertaken analysis so as to generate and publish a list of scarce skills or occupations in high demand, as well as review the South African experience in estimating scarce skills. We concl