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Thread: Solving the skills crunch

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Solving the skills crunch

    Nearly half of South African private businesses say a lack of skills is the biggest constraint to business growth in this country, a new survey showed on Wednesday.

    This the second straight year that workforce issues have been cited as the greatest impediment to growth in the Grant Thornton annual International Business Report (IBR).

    The survey showed that of the 48% businesses saying they faced a skills crunch.

    Lee-Anne Bac, director at Grant Thornton Strategic Solutions, said although the skills shortage was a global concern, South African businesses were the hardest hit.

    "The fact that South Africa is 10 percentage points higher than the global average does indicate that the skills crisis is more acute here. A lack of skills development, emigration and crime are just some of the factors that contribute to this problem," she said.

    When asked about the areas of regulation that had the biggest impact on the ability to grow, labour laws were ranked number one at 28%.

    Globally, 37% of privately held businesses in 34 countries rank a shortage of skills as their greatest constraint to business growth.

    "This is the first time in the history of the IBR survey that workforce issues top the chart as a global concern for growth," Bac said.
    full story from M&G here
    So what are the solutions?
    Why have we fallen behind?
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Bronze Member Karenwhe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    Why have we fallen behind?
    First of all, imho, you have got to believe in the media to even ask that question. I personally won't do that as long as I have a pulse.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    So what are the solutions?
    Do what everyone else does around the world. Import labor from ex. communist block, india, vietman, etc., etc....... and the likes (heck... IBM, MTN and the likes are already doing this, I should know because I have contracts to find properties to rent for all the recruits, they are from as far as Brazil).

    It will do good for the country, same as new recruits with "new blood" and no historical baggage do good for companies and are more productive.

    In the army there is a saying: "a new broom, brooms well".

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karenwhe View Post
    Do what everyone else does around the world. Import labor from ex. communist block, india, vietman, etc., etc.......
    Now that is really going to shake a few locals.

    I've got this image in my mind:
    We train youth and export skills to UK, Europe, Australasia.
    Meantime we're importing skills to deal with local needs.

    What's wrong with this picture?
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Bronze Member Karenwhe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    Now that is really going to shake a few locals.

    I've got this image in my mind:
    We train youth and export skills to UK, Europe, Australasia.
    Meantime we're importing skills to deal with local needs.

    What's wrong with this picture?
    Absolutely nothing wrong. Look at local manpower in any city. But if all of the sudden people move to Durban from JHB and vice versa, no one asks "what is wrong with this picture?" - because there is nothing wrong.

    Who believes in "a job for life" anymore? It doesn't exist.

    The problem is that the above issue creates an nationalistic emotion, difficult to swallow.

    But in reality this happens every day and has been so ever since humans walked on earth.

    Business A hires, people then people get trained work, do their best (hopefully being productive), then people move.... to another company and Company A will hire new people that worked in the past in other companies, and have been trained and etc, exactly like Company A trained people that moved away. And the cycle carries on forever....

    Look at life....... there is all the time movement...... it just is.

    If you take emotion out of it - as one should - there is really nothing wrong or right....... it's just the way things are all the time.

    My guess is that one day - probably not in our lifetime - there will no longer be passports and countries the way we know them today and define them. And people will move around to places were their skills are needed and movement will be more free which will also enable the supply and demand to flow freely, but I digress now...

    Now here is a question:... if SA trains and exports... and imports form places like Russia - who wins and gets the better deal in the bigger picture? The countries that received the SA trained people or SA that got the Russian trained people?

    Think about this for a second (bit picture thinking type), before answering.

    So that is my opinion.

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    when i became an electrician in 1987...i was asked to leave as they had too many qualified electricians...they changed my grade and cut my salary in half...so i left and started my own bussiness... i had electricians...appies... eleconops and labourers working for me then the goverment changed hands i lost the contracts so i had to get rid of all 15 black people who worked for me.

    i visited the appy school a while ago...it looked like a morgue...the place use to buzz with all the people...we had over 200 appies at the school at any one time now there is only just over 200 appies all over south africa...looks like the chimps have managed to mess that up as well.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    I think dismantling the apprentice based technical training schools and systems was not the brightest move, certainly. But I see apprenticeships are making a comeback. This new learnership system just doesn't seem to be producing the goods.

    Karen, I've been thinking the internet revolution is going to be the main driver that brings down national barriers in time - but your thoughts on large scale population movement brings in another dimension.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Bronze Member Karenwhe's Avatar
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    Dave,

    I agree with you about the internet. Renacoder, elance, and the likes are proving daily this. It is not only India that we are talking about, I am working with a Vietnamese programmer, he is brilliant. I work with a Romanian graphic designer and I have in the past working in technical writing with Indian writers that are brilliant (and not as cheap as one might think - but far more educated in that particular subject matter.

    Now, here is the issue. There has to be physical movement because electricians can't pull wires via the internet - that is a fact of life. So what can be done from remote, it is done already, people just have to "join the club".

    But there is also physical movement. In the US they say that generation X is the next generation that will create sustainability in the US after the baby boomers are retired. In EU the labor for construction is imported from Eastern Europe and all the way to Turkey. Locals don't like it - but they also don't like building and working in mess like construction either. I know of programs and initiative to get locals to work in the construction industry, but they didn't like the pay nor the mess and laying bricks - so they imported labor.

    In Israel which is the third LARGEST technology research center after the two in the US, there has been a movement of 1,7 million Russian since 1998 with rocket science skills (no joke meant here at all).

    In South Africa MTN, IBM and the likes are importing skills from all over the world including Brazil - it is happening NOW and it will only grow.

    SMB use Rentacoder, elance, guru.com etc., big corporates import labor.

    But the thing is that it is natural, not a bad thing necessarily.

    I live here = proof, and I am not the only one (I should know).

    It is easy for me to talk about this as I already lived in practically all the continents that this planet has to offer (even Australia and SA is better than AU, from my experience).

    The movement is happening all the time, but one day it will be more transparent to the masses, now it is not and people have a perception that this is difficult or wrong - even though they already saw the first exodus from SA - which proves it was and is happening and always will.

    That is about movement from what I observed in my life. My warm suggestion to anyone in any industry is to observe life as is without judgment, and one can see things and find opportunities no end (more about that in my next post about skills).

    I will post another post about skills from my experience of SA. I split them intentionally because though they are in the same subject, it is a different thing.

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    Bronze Member Karenwhe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    I think dismantling the apprentice based technical training schools and systems was not the brightest move, certainly. But I see apprenticeships are making a comeback.
    I have been back and forth in SA since 1996 and before my husband and I decided to settle here we traveled the world with work and 3 kids.

    When we decided to settle in SA at the beginning my husband was looking for a position in his profession (Telecom, IT background - not by initial education as by education he was.................... ahem........ an electrician which he never worked in - not even one day in his life).

    Guess what the result was...... OVER QUALIFIED for 99.9% of positions and the rest of the positions 0.1% are held by white people - by the way - that sit well in them and don't want to move.

    So, let's not talk about shortage of skills. I know the skills are here, I see them and know people with many skills just like him, we live in a circle of very qualified people.

    But life has its' way, because both of us owned companies in the past so we did just that..... started some more of those. But not even in our professions but rather in what there was demand for.

    Now back to skills. As an electrician my husband does not work in his profession, he works and builds companies in what there is need for - and the demand is high. Yes, it is technology related, but far from what he was doing in the past.

    Same with me, but I took his example in this post, because he studied to be an electrician. And electrician were discussed in the post and he is very successful in SA without having anything to do electricians type of work.

    The moral of the story. Life some times changes and you need to change with it. I have done so in my past and gone from operations manager, technology, to training, to marketing, to property and I am sure that I am not done yet..... all the skills from my previous work + the training and education that I have personally purchased to learn, all these things have made me money and will continue to do so until the day I die, but I know that I will have to change again and again with the supply and demand. There is no "job for life" anymore nor "business for life" - life changes for businesses as well and one has to change. The difference today is that life changes much faster than in the past and people with very low adaptability skills will suffer gravely.

    And yes that does mean sometimes changing profession, changing the company, or changing job, or moving country, or whatever is necessary.

    Now let me give you another example. In one of my previous companies I hired a water purification PhD person that had to work as a technical writer. For his eudcation that was ..... as you can image very low standard (even though you can get a PhD in Technical communications from the university in Texas Austin and this guy was American).

    But guess what, in his profession (water purification) there was no work or not enough to get him hired and paid well enough to support his family.

    I also hired a chemical engineer, also a marine biologist and also an ex. accountant. All of them had to change professions as their skills in their niche was not longer in demand and some of them just didn't want to work in their respective profession anymore.

    The difference is that this did not happen in SA and they had no "chimps" and no government to blame.

    And as always as a last note, instead of complaining and building a wall of rejection, look at the lack in the market build something that is in demand and make money on the back of the gov. stupidity or actually blessing.......for giving opportunities by not filling the lack.

    Hope this helps.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Karen - Terrific and so true.

    But at the end of it all, we still need more electricians!

    I suppose the lesson is that it doesn't have to be us, or Murdock, or whomever. If for some perverse reason we're not wanted, let's find something or somewhere else where we're needed.

    I guess I've just got to get used to the idea.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Full Member Moneymaker's Avatar
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    Something to consider. Countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada are actively poaching the skilled workforce out of South Africa. These companies will happily pay the equivalent of R100.000- R300.000 to assist the Saffa's with moving themselves, their furniture, selling their properties, accomodation and transport once they land on the other side....With the Rand above R7:$1, this is chump change for many of these companies and even small one man shows can afford this strategy. For South African companies the opposite is true. Not too many companies can fork out this kind of money and maintain their cash flow. There would also be implications on profitability.

    Now, imho all government needs to do is get serious about traineeships, crime etc. and use this opportunity to reduce unemployment and all three of these factors will continually improve to the point where the economy will derive great benefits from this. Instead all SA is doing is improving the unemployment levels of other countries while her own people remain disenfranchised, unemployed and in exile.....
    Last edited by Moneymaker; 16-Mar-08 at 02:47 AM.

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