South Africa is a country that prides itself in coordinated planning for growth and development. This evident in the integrated developing plans coordinated through the National Planning Commission in the Presidency. The Commission is a unit for integrated planning for the country’s growth and development plans. It is a high level planning and development unit and it carries the country’s nerve-centre for planning.
Coordinated planning in South Africa is not only in terms of country’s high level vision for economic growth and development. It also applies to areas of skills development whereby a framework for multi-sectoral skills development interventions is located within the country’s Skills Development Act. This framework is the 2011 – 2016 National Skills Development Strategy, NSDSIII. The Strategy is intended to guide the intensive work needed to develop the Sectoral Skills Plans (SSP), and the Department of Higher Education & Training captures the NSDSIII as “the overarching strategic instrument for skills development and guides sector planning”.
The NSDSIII is a continual planning for the country’s skills development interventions in that it builds on NSDS I: 2001 – 2005 and the NSDS II: 2005 – 2010. Building on the previous skills development plans alluded to here does not mean that the NSDS III merely succeeds NSDS I and NSDS II. Given that locating formal education-driven skills development programmes and vocational programmes within the Department of Higher Education is a new approach in that the latter has been driven through the Department of Labour, the NSDS III is “a new beginning”.
The “New Beginning” tag given to the NSDS III assign new responsibility to the Strategy, and this responsibility is to contribute to the realisation of the country’s new economic growth and social development goals.
As mentioned the NSDSIII provides a blueprint for multi-sectoral skills development plans, the SSP. Leadership and management skills development interventions form part of the NSDSIII, and intervention areas in this regard are driven through the Human Resource Development South Africa (HRDSA) Draft strategy 2010 – 2030. This is some kind of “Vision 2030” for the country’s human resource development through education and training.
In order to realise the objectives for the NSDSIII South Africa, through the Department of Higher Education & Training, facilitates a structured support to augment comprehensive education and training for multi-sectoral skills development. This support is in a form of a guideline for Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA).
A new environment has been created to locate the NSDS III and execute it effectively, and resources have been pumped in to ensure that the environment in enabling for a new trajectory for cross-sectoral partnerships for effective skills development in the country. The establishment of a National Skills Fund (NSF) is meat to enable public institutions of higher learning and professional, vocational or other occupational institutions to complement each other for skills development.
The SSP integrates programmes for formal and non-formal educational interventions in institutions of higher learning, basic education as well as professional skills development institutions.
Linked to the Human Resource Development South Africa 2010 – 2030 Strategy, as per the multi-Sectoral Skills Plan is the Arts and Culture Heritage Sector Human Resource Development Strategy; the comprehensive rural development strategy through the Land Restitution and Rural Development Strategies; the HRD Strategy for the Public Sector, to mention these few.
The HRD Strategies for Arts and Culture Heritage Sector as well as for the Public Sector underscore the need for investment in human capital, especially for development of leadership skills areas. Skills development in these areas are presented as plans to “Strengthen the skills and human resource base”, and this “strengthening” of the human resource base is for sustainable resource management and use, as well as “building a developmental state, including improving of public services and strengthening democratic institutions”.
In order to realise objectives for strengthening human resource base and improving public service NSDS III seek to drive skills development programmes for leadership and management. A comprehensive rural development strategy needs advanced levels of skills in leadership and management, and the developmental state can only be realised if leadership and management capacity at local government level is strengthened.
The Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) plans for skills development are by law supposed to talk to the NSDSIII. In other words all SETAs should resonate with what the NSDSIII stipulautes for integrated human resource decvelopment for the country. The idea behind this integration is to address skills developoment needs across the indutries and to ensure that eveerything is in tendem with the country’s econimc growth priority areas. Since the NSDS is the overarching strategic instrument for skills development and a guide for sector planning It is therefore imperative that the contry’s industries’ skills developmeng plans get directive from the Skills Development Act which directs the country’s skills development programmes.
TThe NSDS III has a number of strategic focus areas, and amongst them is Learning programmes for decent work. Such programmes are meant to provide skills developnent in a wider spectrum of programmes whereby people are not only prepared for workplace but also developed with embedded knowldge for social understanding.
Learning programmes for decent work programmes involve a range of considerations including Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and PIVOTAL occupational programmes. RPL caters for people who want to pursure skills development programmes in various competency areas, including Leadership. Such people need to be accorded the opportunity should necessarly be adnmitted on the basis of edcucational background information. This is stipulated in the RPL system. RPL caputures thi point succinctly in that “People who seek to enrol on learning programmes without the standard entry qualifications need to be afforded the opportunity to have their skills acquired through experience measured against that which they require to attain” (NSDSIII, 2010).
PIVOTAL occupational programmes are informed by Section 22 of the Bill of Rights of the country’s Constitution on a right for citizens to choose their trade, occupation and profession freely. These programmes are “Professional, Vocational, Technical and Academic Learning”, and they are meant to meet critical needs for economic growth and social development. These programmes are achieved by means of professional placements and work-integrated learning, amongst other forms. Linked to PIVOTAL programmes are Skills Programmes and other non-accredited short courses.
Judging by leadership and management deficiencies at local government levels, NSDS III interventions like RPL, PIVOTAL, Skills programmes and other non-accredited short courses are a must to improve efficiency at this level of government. This should help the country address lack of scarce skills and financial management weaknesses as reported in the recent (2012) Auditor-General’s Report on Municipalities.