While South Africa’s unemployment rate soared to a new record high of 34.9% in the third quarter of 2021, the quandary is there is a lack of qualified people for career jobs that are available. Companies in a position to hire are battling to recruit the skills they need due to a lack of skilled and experienced candidates, particularly those aligned to their transformation goals.
With skills development one of the priority elements on the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) scorecard, and skills gaps preventing employers from hiring, Deon Oberholzer, CEO of Gestalt Group and Director at ProudAfrique Human Capital, says a solution could be found in a revised approach to recruitment and human capital development, within the context of B-BBEE.
“Classic recruitment cannot fill jobs amidst talent shortages,” he says, “It is time to change the way we recruit. B-BBEE presents both recruitment challenges and opportunities for businesses. Companies experience difficulties in filling jobs with appropriately skilled black people but on the flipside, there is the opportunity to recruit candidates who have potential to acquire those skills while optimising skills development expenditure on the B-BBEE scorecard.
“The amended B-BBEE Codes specifically provide for recognition of bursaries and funding for higher education. Companies could be recruiting high-calibre candidates at working wages and spending on their higher education to get critical leverage on the scorecard. Their wages are claimable as skills development expenditure until they are qualified, which not only saves companies money on their skills development budget but it helps to future-proof the business with high calibre recruits starting at entry level.
“While immediately bolstering internal capacities and contributing to the B-BBEE scorecard, this kind of human capital development approach would be more cost effective than recruitment, in its classic sense, over the long term.”
Oberholzer recognises that few companies can afford to spend more on bursaries. However, when companies strategically leverage skills expenditure to maximise their B-BBEE scorecard, it becomes affordable.
To assist companies with meeting the amended codes’ requirements for expenditure on bursaries for student at higher education institutions, Gestalt introduced a Working Student Programme through its skills development facilitation business, ProudAfrique Human Capital.
The programme allows companies to leverage skills expenditure on the scorecard by employing students at a working wage and gives students a full bursary, with the opportunity to earn an income while they study. In addition, participants are enrolled in the Keys to Life programme which teaches invaluable life skills to foster accountability, responsibility and sustainability. The Keys to Life programme is SETA accredited and B-BBEE compliant.
Citing a study this year by the Manpower Group[i] , Oberholzer says that talent shortages are at a 15 year high as hard and soft skills are more difficult to find than ever before. At least 46% of companies are experiencing difficulties in filling jobs. Operations and logistics positions have been the hardest to fill, alongside jobs in production and manufacturing, sales and marketing, IT, admin / office support, and human resources.
“Along with skills shortages, we have a major employability issue in South Africa where having a qualification does not guarantee employment. Large numbers of the unemployed in this country, including graduates, have never had a proper job and have limited work skills to enter the formal job market.
“Though the graduate unemployment rate is lower than the rate among those with other educational levels, the low employment rate indicates that graduates still do not have the skills needed to enter the job market confidently. Education is still a key to these young people’s prospects improving in the South African labour market but in itself it is not enough. Aside from work experience, they lack soft skills such as reasoning, problem solving, accountability, discipline and responsibility.
“If we are ever going to be able to do something about unemployment in South Africa, we are going to have to do more to improve employability.”
Oberholzer concludes: “Novel approaches to recruitment and skills development such as the Working Student Programme present solutions to talent shortages and ‘un-employability’, while supporting transformation.”
For more information on the Working Student Programme, see the brochure here http://www.pahc.org.za/brochure/