Skills shortage underplayed

We can't afford a skills shortage like the one currently experienced by Eskom. We are headed that way if we don't start focusing on training, incentives and retaining vital skills now.

We can't afford a skills shortage like the one currently experienced by Eskom. We are headed that way if we don't start focusing on training, incentives and retaining vital skills now.

The government might try to claim that the skills shortage is not as bad as it is made out to be, but I prefer to let the facts speak for themselves. Just in Gauteng, there is a 30 percent vacancy rate in certain departments for skilled staff such as articled clerks, trainee accountants, experienced secretaries and so on. In some departments, the vacancies have been open for months - in really skilled positions for a year or more.

Part of the solution is to provide incentives at school level. When pupils get to pick subjects, a list should go out on where there is a need for certain skills and pupils should be skilled from that level on.

The government also needs to get more competitive with salaries and rewards for staying in a position. And the government really needs to heed the public's suggestions on how to deal with crime.

Many people say they are leaving because they have no reason to stay. Only we are not training anyone to take their places, neither are we doing anything to make those who are already skilled stay. The brain drain is more dangerous than a lack of power because if we don't have skills we don't have a way of fixing the problem.

Hermène Koorts, Johannesburg

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