Workforce skills and demands are significantly mismatched

03 September 2019 2 min. read
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A new report from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has confirmed what many experts have said of the South African market in recent times – that skills among the workforce must be better developed to match the needs of the economy. More than 50% of the workforce in South Africa is skills mismatched.

The report, which is developed in collaboration with WorldSkills Russia and Rosatom, was presented at the WorldSkills Conference 2019 held in Kazan. The report addressed one of the most pressing challenges that the global economy is facing at present, namely the threat from automation.

As technology makes its way through the business environment, many concerns have emerged around the impact that phenomena such as automation will have on the workforce. Many fear that substantial job cuts are coming, particularly among the more repetitive and simple operational tasks.

In South Africa, unemployment is a particularly pertinent issue, which only appears to be getting worse. Some experts have suggested that not all is gloomy when it comes to the jobs outlook after digitalisation, given that a whole new breed of jobs is likely to emerge in the new paradigm, which requires working in collaboration with technology.

Workforce skills and demands are significantly mismatched

Developing digital skills among the workforce, in this regard, kills two birds with one stone so to speak. Those with digital skills will have much less trouble finding employment in the contemporary environment, while employers will be able to extract the maximum value from their investment in technology with help from employees that a well-versed in the digital domain.

However, South Africa has a long way to come in this regard. The BCG, WorldSkills and Rosaton report indicates that there is more than 50% of a skills mismatch between the current South African workforce and the demands of the work environment, which bodes poorly for the economy.

South Africa is categorised by the report as a workforce exporter, in that economies across the globe are looking to the South African market for skilled, low-cost employees. However, the global economy demands digital skills more than ever, which is making investors look elsewhere for their workforce.

Developing digital skills will allow the South African economy to better integrate with the global economy. As the economy struggles, foreign investment and international integration have been viewed by policy-makers and businesses alike as a ticket to economic growth in the near future. The report suggests education and skill development programmes to help realise the country’s economic potential.