While the 2017 annual Employment Equity Report reveals some progress in diversifying the job marketplace, it mostly highlights the government’s failure to create a strong skills pipeline to diversify the top management positions in our economy.
Among others, the report points to failures in the following categories:
• Female diversity has remained largely unchanged at just over 20% for the last three reporting periods at the top management level;
• There was a mere 0.8% increase between 2014 to 14.4% in 2016 of the African population group at top management level; and
• Disability diversity across all occupational levels remained very low over the three year period with a 0.4% decrease from 1.2% in 2014 to 0.8% in 2016.
Clearly, the slow pace of change is due to the ANC’s blind obsession with top-down quotas and neglect of real skills development. If skills development had been prioritised as it should have been, we would be seeing far more diversity in the top tiers of professions.
The tragic reality is that President Zuma and his government are more interested in self-enrichment for friends, family and cronies than empowering young black South Africans. Racial bean-counting without a solid, well-developed skills pipeline over time simply doesn’t work.
The DA policy for broad-based empowerment focuses on key policy alternatives which will provide quicker and more sustainable progress when implemented. This includes:
• A school system characterised by quality teaching, performance management and free of union dominance;
• Re-introduction of Teacher Training Colleges to ensure teaching excellence;
• Properly funded universities with a bigger slice of taxes going to NSFAS and student aid;
• Closure of the Entire SETA system with funding channelled to FET Colleges, Universities and vocational training;
• A proper Youth Wage Subsidy to increase youth employment;
• Introducing Opportunity Vouchers for young people. They will be used to subsidise university or TVET college fees, provide seed capital for a micro-enterprise, or to act as a state guarantee on a bank loan to establish a micro-enterprise;
• A supported apprenticeship system;
• BBBEE codes focused on up-skilling of workers rather than simplistic bean counting;
• Simplified “job’s friendly” labour legislation to encourage private investment and job creation; and
• Infrastructure investment at a much higher rate to boost economic growth and create further jobs opportunities.
Redressing the legacy of the past requires meaningful skills development for those who were previously denied it. This would allow for more and more people to enter top management and for these upper levels to be truly diverse.
It’s high time to create a solid skills pipeline, focus on job-creating economic growth and support previously disadvantaged South Africans to succeed in the upper echelons of our economy.
Hysteria around the numbers will not help , meaningful skills development to give people the skills they need, as set out in the DA policy, will.