Skills Development Facilitators in South Africa

Scarce and Critical Skills

2853101_origWhat are Critical Skills?

According to the Framework for Identifying and Monitoring Scarce and Critical Skills [DHET, 2005, p.7], critical skills refer to particular capabilities needed within an occupation, for example, general management skills, communication and customer handling skills, teamwork skills, problem solving [cognitive skills], communication [e.g., language and literacy skills] and technology skills. Scarce skills are addressed by equipping people with registered qualifications on the national qualifications framework (NQF) such as degrees, diplomas or certificates or part qualifications, while critical skills can be acquired through registered part-qualifications or nonregistered short courses which can include individual modules within a qualification.


The processes followed in compiling the National Scarce Skills List is as follows:

STEP ONE Agreement on terms of reference for the compilation of National Scarce Skills List.
STEP TWO Formation of an Advisory Committee to provide inputs to the research.
STEP THREE Conduct the research.
STEP FOUR Interviews with a sample of employer association representatives.
STEP FIVE Presentation of draft findings to the Advisory Committee for feedback.
STEP SIX Review and revision of feedback from Advisory Committee.
STEP SEVEN Gazetting of National Scarce Skills List (2014) for public comment.
STEP EIGHT Review of public comments and revision of National Scarce Skills List (2014).
STEP NINE Publication of National Scarce Skills List (2014).
STEP TEN Dissemination of final National Scarce Skills List (2014) to public.

icon-lg-infographic2The National Scarce Skills List can be used to support decision-making with respect to:

-supply-side planning undertaken by public and private education and training institutions (Universities, Further Education and Training Colleges and Adult Education and Training Centres);
-the development of labour market-relevant programmes and qualifications;
-the determination of funding norms for the programme-qualification mix;
-prioritising student funding through institutions such as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme;
-the identification of skills programmes that are facilitated by Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and to inform SETA -support for bursaries, internships, learnerships and artisan training;
-the identification of training programmes offered by private providers and parastatals;
-career advisory services;
-sector, industry, regional and employer plans; and immigration policies (namely, the issuing of work visas).

icon-lg-infographic2SKILL is defined as “the necessary competencies that can be expertly applied in a particular context for a defined purpose” and “competence” has three elements:

SKILL is defined as “the necessary competencies that can be expertly applied in a particular context for a defined purpose” and “competence” has three elements:

Practical competence – the ability to perform a set of tasks;

Foundational competence – the ability to understand what we ourselves or others are doing and why; and

Reflexive competence – the ability to integrate or connect our performance with an understanding of the performance of others, so that we can learn from our actions and are able to adapt to changes and unforeseen circumstances.

Governance-IconMany analysts regard poor skills levels as the most important because of South Africa’s high unemployment rate. One explanation frequently offered for South Africa’s high levels of unemployment is the shortage of skills. While it is important to address the very low skills levels among the unemployed, it is equally important to increase the country’s supply of skilled people (CDE Report, 2011). Research has shown that South Africa needs skilled immigrants, and the immigration of skilled people has improved in the past five years.