Mutli-pronged approach to Africa’s Skill Shortage
GE has launched a Skills Paper that identifies a three-pronged strategy to develop the skills South Africa needs. These are a stronger education system with closer links to industry, more open and flexible labour markets and a broader talent localisation strategy pursued in partnership with global companies, and the pipeline of skills needed to leverage the technological advances of tomorrow.
Bianca Tulumello, Human Resources Director for GE Africa, says “South Africa has an unprecedented opportunity to boost growth, create jobs and improve social stability, thanks to a burgeoning population. Helping to drive the education agenda in South Africa, and on the rest of the continent, is one of the key priorities for GE.”
In 2014, South Africa’s list of the top 100 scarce skills in the country included Electrical Engineer, Civil Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Quantity Surveyor, Programme or Project Manager, Finance Manager, Physical and Engineering Science Technicians, Industrial and Production Engineers, Electrician, and Chemical Engineer. GE is investing in bringing the best people together in South Africa to help create a better future for the country and the continent. As part of its commitment, the company has committed up to U$5 million to a GE Scholarship program run in partnership with the African Leadership Academy to enable students to attend the Academy.
All stakeholders need to work towards improving the quality of the education system at all levels. According to the GE Skills Paper, the youth account for 55% of South Africa’s working-age population. However, this segment of the work force faces additional obstacles to find employment. Youth unemployment remains a pressing issue and, as a result of the 2009 recession‚ the unemployment rate among youth rose from 32‚7% in 2008 to 36‚1% in 2011 and has subsequently remained between 35-37%.
With the South African Government’s National Development Plan seeking to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030, the country is relying on the public sector, the private sector and partnerships between both to support inclusive growth, which is best achieved with a skilled workforce.
The research conducted by GE shows that, beyond youth skills development and skills development in the transportation sector, the healthcare and energy sectors are key areas in need of a skills boost. For this, and other areas, GE has invested R500 million in a Customer Innovation Centre in South Africa that will be a centre of excellence for innovation and technology transfer as GE localises solutions for the African continent.
Susan Peters, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, said “GE’s commitment to education permeates every part of the business. Globally, GE focusses on bridging the skills gap found in every market. Research, such as the Skills Paper, allows us to identify the most effective way to address the skills shortage across a range of countries, including South Africa. Working together with government, GE can help combat this critical issue.”
One of the strategic objectives of the company is working to transform and empower leaders. GE has an extensive programme to develop employees in South Africa and abroad to ensure that their skills are kept relevant throughout their career. A variety of internship and on-the-job training programmes, such as the Financial Management Programme, the Communications Leadership Development Programme, the Edison Engineering Development Programme, and the Early Career Development Program (ECDP) among many others ensure that employees never stop learning at GE.
Improving the state of South African education is a priority for the government, the private sector and the public at large. GE remains committed to working with government to deliver skills development programmes at all levels that will help build local suppliers and industry.