/ 10 September 2010

Labour and business must unite, says Motlanthe

Organised labour and business must join forces to increase the skills and employment needs of young South Africans and so meet the country’s overall human resource development imperatives, said Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Thursday night.

He was speaking in Gauteng, midway through the skills summit convened by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande. The summit has brought together more than 500 representatives of business, labour, education and training, and follows last week’s linked two-day summit on further education and training (FET) colleges.

The skills summit “brings together the entire training and development sector to consider key goals across the entire post-school education and training system”, Motlanthe said. The event enables “all of us charged with the responsibility of driving the reconstruction, growth and development of our country can consolidate our work and assess the effectiveness of the strategies we have adopted in this mammoth task”.

Motlanthe himself chairs government’s recently established Human Resource Development Council. The council is a “multi-sector, multi-stakeholder and expert-led advisory group that provides an environment promoting optimal participation of all stakeholders in the planning, stewardship, and monitoring and evaluation of human resource development activities in the country”, Motlanthe said.

This week’s summit draws together strands of education and training as a whole that summits earlier this year separately considered. Motlanthe summarised these:

“The Higher Education Summit [in Cape Town in April] brought together all stakeholders in the higher education sector to consider key challenges facing the sector. It was significant because it brought students, workers, academics, university managers and council members together — indeed a first of its kind in many years.”

And last week’s FET colleges summit “gathered an all-inclusive group of stakeholders to review detailed work that has been done to improve [that] sector”, Motlanthe said.

On Thursday — the first day of the skills summit — delegates broke up into parallel work groups according to sectors. They are expected to report back to the plenary summit on Friday, where detailed performance and delivery agreements are to be signed.

Motlanthe referred at the outset of his address to these anticipated agreements, and he concluded: “We expect your [summit] declaration to be translated into firm commitments from each stakeholder in the post-summit bilaterals which will be led by Dr Blade Nzimande’s department.”

“I am confident that we as stakeholders have the will, the strength and the wherewithal to achieve our set objectives in the area of Human Resource Development in order to meet our nation’s developmental imperatives.”

Read the full speech