Each LMIP Briefing is an evidence-based contribution to informing the development of a skills planning mechanism for South Africa. Briefings showcase our cutting edge research and aim to highlight key trends and potential implications from LMIP research projects.

LMIP Briefing 2

Contours of the Skills Planning Mechanism: The database issue

The LMIP undertook a database audit in twenty government entities including national government departments, provincial government premier’s offices, and local government authorities. The aim was to investigate the relevance of identified databases to skills planning particularly on the demand side as well as to assess options for integration with other databases. The audit revealed that databases have different levels of relevance and usability:

- Datasets that are relevant and immediately usable, such as the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, Quarterly Employment Survey and General Household Survey from StatsSA.

- Datasets that are highly relevant and require some preparation, such as the Unemployment Insurance Fund database from the Department of Labour.

- Datasets that contain relevant variables but are currently undergoing validation and cleaning before they can be utilized, such as the population register in the Department of Home Affairs.

- Datasets that are in an early stage of evolution and will require further development (e.g. in terms of completeness) before they can be used, such as a new farmer database in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

It is recommended that DHET pursue collaboration and implement MoAs as appropriate to formalize database development and sharing with other government entities, to broaden the base of data available for skills planning.

The LMIP report Occupational Shifts and Shortages: Skills Challenges Facing the South African Economy examines labour demand trends and returns to skills (i.e. wages) during the 2000s. The report’s key finding is that:

Global competition, increasing capital intensity and technological change, along with primary sector job losses, have all contributed to greater skills intensity in employment over the period.

The effect of this has been:

- A rise in relative wages of more highly skilled workers and putting pressure on the relative wages of those in occupations that is more vulnerable to these forces. 

This reconfirms the view that:

- The current growth path exacerbates the mismatch in the skills profiles of labour demand and supply, and reinforces inequality.

- Unemployment cannot be effectively addressed without a significant reorientation of the growth trajectory towards activities and sectors that demand lower skilled workers.

- Where employment and remuneration have been under particular pressure – in routinised and onsite occupations – a range of policies may be required to support job creation, with a focus on improving training in these lower- and middle-tier occupations essential to coping with competitive and technological pressures.