Opening remarks by Deputy President Shipokosa Paulus Mashatile, Chairperson of the Human Resource Development Council, at Umgungundlovu TVET College, Imbali Campus, Pietermaritzburg
The Premier of the Province, Nomusa Dube-Ncube you have been a wonderful host, and we wish to thank you,
The Principal of Umgungundlovu TVET College, Ms Ntombi Ntshangase, and the Chairperson of the Council of the College Dr Lungile Ntombela and the members in attendance,
Ministers, Dr Nzimande, Ms Motshekga, and Ms Kieviet
Deputy Ministers, Ms Gina, Ms Moloi
Premiers, and MECs in attendance,
Deputy Chairpersons, Mr Ntshalintshali and Ms Mayekiso, Members of the Human Resource Development Council,
DGs and senior officials of government
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you all for joining us on this first meeting of the Human Resource Development Council in 2023.
We are at a historic place where President Mandela last addressed a community before he was captured in Howick in 1962.
I have agreed to come back to join the walk in August and that will form part of the commitment to track the work we are doing together to change the lives of the people.
I am pleased to know uMgungundlovu TVET college as an education and innovation centre. In that it has the TVET College, and the Durban University of Technology as well two high schools that are a feeder to the college and the University. I am pleased to know that we are building the imbali precinct the first in the country.
We need more of such across the centre so that we can build education cities and produce skills needed by the economy and ensure that we become globally competitive.
This is a special meeting for me because it is the first time that I am meeting you as Council Members since assuming the role of being the Chairperson of the Human Resource Development Council, as per the responsibilities that have been delegated to me by the President.
It is humbling to see the level of commitment by Council Members towards making the work of this body a success, more especially in the current turbulent economic times, as we collectively seek innovative solutions to skills development for the economy, and future of work.
We have our work cut out as this Council, as we are meeting three days since Statistics South Africa released the quarter 1 of 2023 results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey.
According to these results, the official unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percent when compared to results for the fourth quarter of 2022. One of the industries that has seen employment decrease is the construction sector.
Our ongoing response as Government in this regard has been the anchoring of the District Development Model on the implementation of catalytic projects.
Together with Minister Nzimande and the Deputy Chairpersons of Council, we witnessed the development of a new smart city that isaimed at creating a new economic hub consisting of retail, mixed-typology residential, lifestyle and tourism-based development, new lifestyle estates, high quality office and business parks and logistics.
In addition to boosting the construction sector, the initiative is one of the post-apartheid cities that we are building, where people will live and socialise in the same areas that they work in.
Our government supports this project and will continue to provide all necessary assistance for its advancement.
Ladies and Gentlemen
One of the three sectors that Statistics South Africa has also noted in its recent release as having recorded the largest employment gains is the agricultural sector.
Yesterday we had the opportunity of witnessing the work that the KwaZulu-Natal Province is doing, through the Cedara College of Agriculture, in growing its agricultural sector.
We also recommitted our partnership as Government, with young and emerging farmers that have engaged with yesterday.
Our conversations with these farmers re-emphasised the spirit of joining efforts across society in the fight against poverty and unemployment.
As this Council, we should take the conversation further, and ask ourselves how the implementation of the Human Resource Development Strategy, which is anchored on the District Development Model approach of partnership, will nurture and advance further the interests and innovative practices that are being led in such important growth sectors of our economy.
We must ensure that our agenda and conversations advance our shared objective of upskilling people so that they can contribute in the economy.
We are content that HRDC is at the forefront of fighting the revival of the economy from the skills and human potential aspect.
As a government, we will continue to work with Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, members of the community, civil society, and the commercial sector to build the country’s economy while also developing the skills for ordinary people.
It is through the potential and creativity of our people that our country can strive.
Ladies and Gentlemen
In the same spirit of collaborating around a common objective between government, organised labour, organised business, and civil society, I am pleased that today we are going to witness the signing of Social Compacts in the following areas:
1. Building the Foundation for Transformed Economy and Society.
2. Building the Skills for a Transformed Economy and Society.
The third compact will be finalised and signed in the next Council meeting, and it relates to working together to build a capable and developmental state.
Today’s signing ceremony is aimed at ensuring advocacy for all compacts and also highlights the commitments by each social partner who is a signatory to the compact.
Our country’s foremost social compact is the National Development Plan, which provides the vision for growth and development as well as sets clear targets and timelines in this regard.
Chapter 9 of the NDP acknowledges that ‘Education, training, and innovation are central to South Africa’s long-term development and lifelong learning, whereas work experience improves productivity, enabling a virtuous cycle that grows the economy.
The HRDC commitment to developing our people takes precedence in everything we do.
The strides we have made in concluding the Social Compacts will surely guide us towards achieving the outcome of NDP vision 2030.
Ladies and Gentlemen
To give effect to this vision, the Human Resource Development Council has developed the Human Resource Development Strategy, which focuses on building the human resources required for an improved and competitive economy.
As a Council, we should be focusing on programmes that will improve productivity and help people learn the skills they need for our country to become a knowledge and skill-based economy.
As we deliberate issues in this meeting, we need to think critically about the role that this Council plays in skill development and consider if the work we are focusing on will provide individuals the skills they need to be adaptable to big-picture changes such as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Certainly, as we adapt to a new and changing learning environment, we also must shine a spotlight on challenges that threaten our skills development agenda.
Amongst others, these include the recent research findings on the concerning high levels of grade 4 learners who are said to be unable to read for meaning in any of our country’s eleven official languages.
Our curriculum programmes must be responsive to these areas to ensure that we adapt to a new and changing learning environment.
Moreover, in order to effectively educate today’s students, who will work in ten to fifteen years utilising systems that are operated and constantly growing in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, teachers must be educated to utilise the most up-to-date teaching software.
Additionally, it implies that workers who are currently employed should also be encouraged to advance themselves and pursue a lifetime of learning and dynamic change.
Lastly, in order for our kids to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to be productive members of society, we need to find strategies to keep them in school.
We must create a conducive environment for learning and invest in education. We must let them know that education does not only open doors for being employed but that it is a personal tool for being a better citizen and human being.
As I conclude, we want to thank you all for taking your time to discuss this important issue of skills development. With these few words, I hope that our discussions will bear much needed fruits. We appreciate everything that you do to help move South Africa ahead.
I thank you.
Source: Government of South Africa