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Recorded Address Delivered by the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs. Angie Motshekga, at the Donation of 240 Engines by Ford South Africa to support Technical High Schools, 20 August 2020

Programme Director

MECs present

Mayors,

Ford SA Senior Management

School Management Teams

Distinguished Guests Ladies

Gentlemen Sanibonani

 

Programme Director, thank you for the opportunity to participate in this virtual event, which seeks to address one of the most critical issues facing our country today, the technical skills shortages.

This event occurs amid the irreversible forward march to automation as a significant feature of the 4th Industrial Revolution.  

We meet today amid a global health pandemic that threatens to reverse the gains of the worldwide economies since the 2007–2008 global recession caused in part by the so-called subprime mortgage crisis.

Programme Director, as we rise today, it is appropriate that we observe a moment of silence for all those who have fallen victims to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we battle the scourge of COVID-19, and despite our best efforts, as a sector, and a family of nations, we have lost many of our own--friends, family, and co-workers.

On behalf of the Government, we convey our deepest condolences for the loss of lives as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its related complications. Let’s observe a moment of silence in honour of the departed.

Moment of silence!!!!!

It is an honour and a privilege to rise and speak at this occasion of receiving the critical 240 Ford powered Engines, to support the skills revolution here in our country.

Programme Director, basic education can enable humanity to make a better tomorrow. It is only education that makes us dream and go on to achieve greatness.

It is within this context that today Ford South Africa launches a novel skills development partnership with us. This is a significant boost to our efforts to stimulate the local economy and get our nagging technical skills shortage out the way. It is also an exemplar of what we can achieve as partners, not adversaries. We are likely to succeed if we combine our best efforts as Government and private sectors to decelerate skill shortages in our country. The Engines we are receiving today will power the future and unleash our learners' new potential in ways unimaginable before. These engines aren’t just mean machines but the enablers of dreams and imaginations.

The competitiveness of the automotive industry is critical to South Africa’s economic sustainability. Recent studies have shown that the automotive sector has consistently contributed over 7% to South Africa’s annual gross domestic product (GDP). And, as such, it is particularly imperative to support this sector, through growth-stimulating measures.  As Government, we are seized with the development of the post-COVID-19 economic recovery “Marshall Plan” that will, amongst others, priorities the growth of this automobile sector.  The economic growth of any nation has long been attributed to the availability of tangible and intangible resources. Human capital is thus far the greatest intangible asset recorded in history.

It's the key element upon which the success of all other sectors is predicated; hence this partnership heralds a break that South Africa needs. We are told that even the much-vaunted foreign direct investment (FDI) tends to go to geographies where there's a skilled and proficient human resource within an economy. This is not to undercut the imperatives of the rule of law, democracy, and policy certainty.

At present, the pool of students who can potentially access university and science-based TVET programmes is tiny compared to the skill demands in the country. Thus, the need for Technical High Schools and Schools of Specialisation is indeed a catalyst for the future of basic education. It was within this context that we launched Three Stream Curriculum Model, namely the Academic, the Technical Vocational, and the Technical Occupational Streams for Grades 10-12. In places where we have a footprint (human resource skills and materials), we have successfully rolled out the introduction of mechanical technology subject specialising in automotive, fitting, machining, and welding. We have also introduced two new subjects, i.e., technical mathematics and technical sciences, as enablers towards the world of artisanry. These new subjects provide a broad knowledge of the technology and engineering fields to prepare learners well for technology-related studies at the school level and beyond.

Programme Director; the snapshot of South Africa's unemployment and skill base levels is scary. South Africa's unemployment rate is high for both youth and adults. However, the unemployment rate among young people aged 15–34 shows that more than one in every three young people in the labour force did not have a job in the first quarter of 2020. According to Stats SA, the official unemployment rate increased by 1.0 percentage point to 30.1% in the first quarter of 2020. Obviously, these figures musk the upcoming decimation of jobs and livelihoods as a direct result of the COVID-19 economic meltdowns.  

In addition, various studies have agreed that we need to focus on technical and vocational training needs as a country. According to the Centre for Development and Enterprise, South Africa has a chronic shortage of mid-level technical skills and a crisis of youth unemployment, which is demonstrated by the not-in-education, employment or training (Neets) phenomenon. We have 3.4-million Neets in the age group 15-24, compared to a total of about 1.6-million in universities and colleges. As country, we need to tackle the growth throttling policy terrain that contributes to this shocking figure, by increasing the pool of learners undertaking technological related studies. 

There is no doubt that South Africa needs more educated, and qualified people with the right skills to assist in birthing the new post-COVID-19 economy.

The latest figures show, the following skills are considered critical and scarce. These are engineering professionals, including electrical engineers, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, industrial and production engineers. We also urgently need skills in computer network and systems engineer amongst others. We also need artisans such as electrician, millwright, boiler maker, fitter and turner, carpenter, and joiner. The good thing is that we also have shortages of teachers who can teach these subjects. So this means, some graduates from our Technical High Schools and Schools of Specialisation can still pursue a teaching qualification in these critical and scarce skills. 

Interestingly, I am also told that our well-developed automobile sector even has shortages of automotive electricians and automotive motor mechanics. The journey to unleash the new potential in the technical knowledge of engines begins here, today.

We need to change the narrative. According to recent Stats, South Africa has one engineer for every 3200 people compared to one for every 130 people in china, 250 in Europe, and 450 in Australia.

According to the Department of Labour, too few people study qualifications required to address the skills shortages in the country. These numbers tell us that we need to train young people for future skills.

The onus is on us as the present-day mandarins to mobilise resources within and outside the state to get the skills shortage out of the way. We are being called upon to innovate and train young people for the professions of the future, while we haven't even mastered the skills of the present economy.  

Programme Director; the matter of skill shortages has been an issue for South Africa for some time now. This is further compounded by the growing need for technical and now the growing field of digital technology.  These skills of the future have the potential to transform lives and drive the new economies. However, in many countries (South Africa included), imbalances between supply and demand for skills lead to significant skills mismatches and shortages. It is time for South Africa to get the skills mix right!

I am glad that Ford South Africa is pioneering a partnership that takes us forward. I am certain that this ground-breaking initiative will grow our learners' skills at the school level and beyond. Programme Director; the partnership we have with Ford South Africa is unique and a special one. It is rooted not just in the ritual that corporates should and must invest in the communities in which they operate. Still, it is an overarching endeavor to improve the skillset of our children in technical education sphere. The partnership also addresses the imperatives of the King 111 Report on corporate governance.

Furthermore, it also fits faultlessly with the dictates of the NDP, stating that: 

“Improved education ... will lead to higher employment and earnings, while more rapid economic growth will broaden opportunities for all and generate the resources required to improve education. (p. 26)”

Today, I call upon Ford South Africa to assume the leader's mantle in the transformation of the automobile industry. We need more teams with diverse backgrounds and skill sets that must be built because that makes for innovative business. I insist that Ford South Africa must join hands more often with Government to create opportunities to train young people to enter formal employment in this crucial industry. We both need each other in good times and bad times. Let’s hold hands and welcome a new future significantly different to what we envisaged five months ago. If we pull together as one, we shall triumph as a nation. It’s truly in our hands.

I, thank you.

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Written By: Administrator Account
Date Posted: 8/26/2020
Number of Views: 165

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