Lack of skills, jobs a 'time bomb', says minister

The government is sitting on a “time bomb” if it does not align education with skills needed by the economy to create jobs, Minister of Labour Membathisi Mdladlana said on Thursday.

“Sooner or later people will rock the boat and there won’t be time for conferences,” he told the annual conference of the Black Management Forum (BMF) in Midrand.

“We’ve been in government for 15 years—what are we waiting for? What have we been doing for the last 15 years?”

The minister said 60% of the unemployed were children under the age of 21.

“Some of these kids have done matric but didn’t get university entrance—so they’re out of school and they’re not at work,” Mdladlana said.

“We’re sitting on a time bomb,” he said, as this would fuel the country’s alarmingly high rate of unemployment and crime.

Before 1994 the ANC decided it had to integrate education and training.

“We’re not turning back on this,” Mdladlana said.

While government expenditure on education has risen significantly, this has not been shown in results, and a number of surveys have shown that South Africa’s schooling system has failed to provide school-leavers with the necessary skills to make a meaningful contribution to the economy.

South African children consistently score badly in international achievement tests, even when measured against far poorer African nations.

This is a sign that the country will find it increasingly difficult to fully compete in the global economy or to fill its need for skilled workers.—Sapa

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