Skills in the spotlight

This Labour Market Intelligence Partnership (LMIP) report looks at the outcome of its audit of a selection of government databases in assessing their relevance in skills planning, and at its recent report on the labour demand and skills trends shaping the employment landscape.


Database audit to improve skills planning information in South Africa

LMIP undertook a database audit in 20 government entities including national government departments, provincial government premiers’ offices, and local government authorities. The aim was to investigate the relevance of identified databases to skills planning, particularly on the demand side, as well as to assess options for integration with other databases.

The audit revealed that databases had different levels of relevance and usability. These included datasets that:

  • Were relevant and immediately usable, such as the Quarterly
  • Labour Force Survey, Quarterly Employment Survey and General Household Survey from Statistics South Africa.
  • Were highly relevant and required some preparation, such as the Unemployment Insurance Fund database from the Department of Labour.
  • Contained relevant variables but were currently undergoing validation and cleaning before they could be utilised, such as the population register in the Department of Home Affairs.
  • Were in the early stages of evolution and would require further development (e.g. in terms of completeness) before they could be used, such as a new farmer database in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

The audit found there was a need for the Department of Higher Education and Training to pursue collaboration and implement memoranda of agreements to formalise database development and sharing with other government entities, which would lead to broadening the base of data available for skills planning.
New LMIP report unpacks current labour demand and skills trends

Occupational shifts and shortages: skills challenges facing the South African economy is the title of a recent LMIP report that examines labour demand trends and returns to skills (i.e. wages) during the 2000s. The key finding is that global competition, increasing capital intensity and technological change, along with primary sector job losses, have all contributed to greater skills intensity in employment over the period.

The effect of this has been a rise in relative wages of more highly-skilled workers and increased pressure on the relative wages of those in occupations that are more vulnerable to these forces.

This confirms the view that the current growth path exacerbates the mismatch in the skills profiles of labour demand and supply, and reinforces inequality.

Unemployment cannot be effectively addressed without a significant reorientation of the growth trajectory towards activities and sectors that demand lower skilled workers.

Where employment and remuneration have been under particular pressure – in routine work and onsite occupations
– a range of policies may be required to support job creation, with a focus on improving training in these lower- and middle-tier occupations essential to coping with competitive and technological pressures.