The Deputy President of the Republic;

Deputy Chairpersons of the HRDC;

Members of the HRDC;

Members of the HRDC EXCO;

Chairperson and members of the NSA;

Leadership of organised labour, organised business and civil society;

Partners of the HRDC;

International guests and speakers on all the thematic areas of the summit;

Programme Directors;

HRDC & NSA Secretariat;

Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

 

Let me take this opportunity to thank all stakeholders and partners of the Human Resource Development Council who participated in this 4th HRDC Summit.

 

This Summit is taking place exactly 65 years, when 20,000 South African women from all walks of life and various parts of the country marched to the Union Buildings to demand an end to the dehumanising pass laws.
 
Despite the dangers of challenging apartheid authorities, they asserted their worth as human beings and refused to be relegated to the margins of history in their own country. As we celebrate Women’s Month, this Summit must also commit to support the skilling of women including women-led business enterprises.

 

Like these women, we too today, united in our effort, diversity and sectors, we gathered here for the past three days to reflect on skills and employment creation as well as our advances or failure in this challenging task of building a more, competent, enabled, absorbed, active, and skilled human resources in our country.

 

It is also important that I briefly outline how the HRDC works and the importance of its summits. The HRDC is a multi-stakeholder body primarily made up of the main social partners - government, labour, bigness and civil society, as well as individuals who are playing a prominent role in the broad area of Human Resources development. Whilst the HRDC in itself is no an implementing agency, it is neither a talk-shop either, as its deliberations are carried over for implementation by the various stakeholders, as I will briefly indicate later. The Summit is also a very important platform for various stakeholders to share experiences, reflect on both achievements and outstanding challenges. That is why the major deliberations and recommendations from this Summit will be summarised and tabled before the next ordinary meeting of the HRDC and be circulated to all the stakeholders.

 

No single one of us, including government, can succeed in the task of building skills required for the 21st century alone. We therefore require working together between government, organised labour, organised business and civil society.

 

What is also important is to ensure that we have inclusive outcomes which consider the needs of the youth, women and people living with disabilities.

These will be the outcomes that will indeed make this a watershed Summit.

 

Ladies and gentlemen

 

Deliberations and engagements at this Summit have concluded successfully and  in the next few weeks the HRDC will be able to announce all agreements that have been successfully entered into by social partners to work with government and ensure that the skills required to grow the economy and deliver on the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) are produced as also envisaged in our skills strategy.  

 

With regard to the Skills Strategy to support the ERRP, an implementation plan is being developed to assist in monitoring and reporting progress on its implementation by the various stakeholders. Proposals and reflections made at this Summit will be firmly considered in the development of the implementation plan of the Skills Strategy in support of the ERRP.

 

Since the new term of the Council started in December 2020, there has been a lot of work done to refine the HRD Strategy Towards 2030 and to ensure that the goals set in the strategy are aligned with the national vision.

 

After this Summit more work must be done to ensure that outcomes of deliberations are not just aligned with the strategic goals of the Strategy but are aligned with the new priorities to be decided by the Council soon.

 

The purpose of the deliberations during the Summit has been to tap into the collective wisdom of social partners from organised labour, organised business and civil society in order to find solutions to an endemic problem of production of skills required by the economy during this difficult time of the Covid 19 pandemic.

 

As we may know, South Africa has experienced a significant economic shock due to Covid-19 with about 7% contraction in GDP, although there is a bounce-back projected for 2021.

 

We have lost approximately 1.4 million jobs with majority of these in the informal sector and household domestic services, with less jobs lost in the public sector. Critical to recognize is the heterogeneity in these job losses.

 

What I must emphasized is that President Ramaphosa announced Covid-19 Support Package is largest of its kind since the advent of our democracy in 1994.

 

Ladies and gentlemen

 

The theme of this Summit ‘Skills for the 21st Century’, was carefully chosen to highlight the current challenges and the task that must be undertaken if we are to successfully confront the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality plaguing our country.

 

While considering the outcomes of this Summit, and the advice and commitments from our social partners, we want to ensure that the skills produced currently and in the future are those that will not only grow and develop our economy, but will give young people the capacity to meaningfully contribute and build a better future for themselves.

 

On day 1 we heard of the work being done by social partners, led by the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) to ensure the quality of schooling and achieve excellence in STEM subjects aligned with the HRD Strategy Outcome 1.

 

We welcome progress made in foundational programmes that lay a strong basis for skills development. Since the last Summit, two important initiatives have taken place at basic education level. Firstly, the announcement by government that Early Childhood Development will now shift from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Basic Education (DBE) is a welcome and important development that will strengthen foundational education. Secondly, the announcement and plans by the DBE to introduce subjects like coding and robotics at foundational level will go a long way in preparing pupils for a future education system in line with new technological developments, an emphasis that was a running theme in this Summit.

 

These are very important building blocks for Human Resources development in our country in line with calls that have been made in earlier HRDC summits.

 

We also focused on ensuring that schools give learners the education and competencies they need to cope with the fast changing and unfamiliar world. We look forward to continued collaboration in this area.

 

Day 2 focused on building skills for a transformed society and economy and ensuring alignment with key HRD Strategy Outcomes. Of critical importance in this deliberation and central to the outcome was the Skills Strategy developed by the Department of Higher Education and Training to response to the ERRP. 

 

The Skills strategy as developed by the DHET was presented at this Summit, and we will definitely incorporate the many useful comments made during deliberations. We urge all stakeholders to take this strategy for further discussion and enrichment in their respective sectors.

 

Again, the Summit correctly focused on the importance of skills for the 4th Industrial revolution and the future of work in our response to the ERRP.

 

The work of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and Universities will be critical in this area. Since our last Summit President Ramaphosa has signed a cooperation agreement with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, to restructure our TVET college system and artesian training such that we build an apprenticeship based rather than an academically gassed system.

 

This means we must work towards ensuring that ideally TVET college students must already be apprenticed in companies, rather than doing theoretical training that is divorced from the workplace.

 

Again, this must be at the centre of the social compact between government, labour and business in order to modernise and make vocational education and training relevant to skills required in the workplace.

 

I am also very pleased to say that the report of the Ministerial Task Team on the impact and implications of the 4IR on post school education and training has already been handed over to me and I am planning to publicly release this and also to place it before the HRDC for discussion.

 

Today’s (Day 3) deliberations focused on building a developmental and capable state. The discussions centred on work being done by the Department of Public Service and Administration ( DPSA) and its agencies, the National School of Government (NSG) and the Public Service Commission (PSC) to ensure a professionalised public service.

 

Deliberations included interrogation of the policies that are developed and on how to work digitally and smart within the current very uncertain environment. Cyber security was considered, and current research looked at ensuring policies are well crafted to include security and guard against the risk of cyber insecurity.

 

Our President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has, over the last two days in his appearance at the Zondo Commission, correctly conceded that our democratic state has been severely weakened by state capture and corruption. What this means is that whilst skills development by government is critical in building a capable state, we must at the same time intensify the fight against state capture and corruption, as it also cuts across and often involves collaboration in both the public and private sectors.

 

Part Other important parts of deliberations at this Summit included, though not limited to the following:

 

  • That Covid-19 accelerate change, which presents massive challenges for the present and future workforce. Therefore agility, adaptability, innovation and collaboration are called for in these unprecedented times;

 

  • The National Youth Policy 4IR should be seen as a crosscutting pillar across sectors and institutions;

 

  • The readiness to work in new technological environments using new technologies is foundational and we need to recognise the fact that human adaptability is being outstripped by technology;

 

  • A shift to technology could result in benefits but could also deepen inequality. As a result, an inclusive approach is required;

 

  • Both Basic and Higher Education and Training Departments have to prepare students for jobs that have not yet been created, technologies that have not yet been invented and problems that we don’t yet know will arise;

 

  • There should be focus on developing a future Teacher Education agenda;

 

  • There should be strategies developed to align TVET colleges to the 21st Century skills;

 

  • The approach to implement occupational qualifications through the Centres of Specialisation (CoS) approach in the TVET system should be expanded;

 

  • There should be a creation of a conducive environment for SME’s to grow the job market; and

 

  • The business sector must intensify training and development.

 

The Sectretariat will ensure that all the inputs Summit resolutions are  taken forward as I outlined earlier.

 

The HRDC has for the past few years, since 2010 committed to finding solutions and removing barriers that obstruct the production of required skills.

 

The biennial Summits have been an effective tool that the Council has used to continue this work and ensure its impact in skills development. Perhaps one way to improve the relevance of these Summits is for the Secretariat to compile a report on progress made, and achievements and challenges since the previous summits, so as to use such Summits as platforms to reflect on progress and outstanding challenges. This must also include tabling of some of the work done under the auspices of the HRDC itself.

 

The Social compacts that will be signed after the Summit are a continuation of the commitment to ensuring that this work is continued and strengthened going forward, and that the HRDC continues to progressively work with implementing agencies to remove blockages in the human resource development pipeline.

 

The biggest problem facing our HRD system is ensuring that  about 3.3 million young people between the ages of 15-24 as reported in the first quarter of 2021 by the StatsSA who are Not in Education,  Employment or Training(NEETs) are supported to obtain skills that will assist them to re-enter the job market.

 

Currently there are many initiatives going on to achieve this, both by the business sector and by government. Effective coordination is required to ensure impact and better results. This coordination of effort will also ensure sustainability of solutions. 

 

In the deliberations there has been general consensus that sustainable solutions for acquisition of skills and development of human capital for our country’s growth must be found.

 

There is also broad agreement that the challenges we face are a societal problem, and the responsibility cannot be shouldered by the government alone. It is a collective responsibility that includes all sectors of society.

 

I would like to conclude by thanking our local and international guests who participated to enrich the discussions, including all our institutions of basic and higher learning and training.

 

All our provincial stakeholders and social partners who tirelessly work together to find solutions that will enrich this Summit.

 

I also want to thank the Secretariat for the good work done in preparing for this Summit and ensuring that it is a success.

 

Finally,  my gratitude goes to the Deputy President of our country, His Excellency David Mabuza who is the chairperson of the HRDC, the Deputy Chairpersons of the HRD Council, all my cabinet Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Premiers the Mayors who participated in this Summit.

 

I thank you all