15 June 2021 Media Release: Skills Mecca to become central to job and skills alignment in the Garden Route

Media Release: Skills Mecca to become central to job and skills alignment in the Garden Route

For Immediate Release
15 June 2021

South Africans have almost become immune to bad news as day to day survival remains for many the single most important priority, especially with the arrival of COVID 19 and the world of Lockdown. Many of us would probably not even realised that on 1 June 2021, Statistics South Africa (STATS SA) released the first quarter of 2021 Labour Force survey that shows the official national unemployment stands at 32,6%. This is the highest unemployment rate since the start of the Labour Force survey in 2008. Although the Western Cape is somewhat better off at 23,7%, the smaller percentage makes no difference to those still unemployed and without a job.

Turning such a catastrophic scenario around in a long term sustainable manner is only possible through targeted economic growth and development. This is why the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) developed 20-year Growth and Development Strategy. A well-designed strategy requires a solid foundation with many cross-cutting enablers, one of which is skills development.

A critical question then arises: “What are the skills requirements and challenges that constrain this priority area?”

The GRDM and its relevant stakeholders have ramped up efforts to roll out the Garden Route Skills Mecca (GRSM). A dedicated GRSM Coordinator, Dr Florus Prinsloo, has subsequently been appointed by the GRDM. Dr Prinsloo has already established an internal task team, as well as an external stakeholder forum. An implementation plan for the Skills Mecca have been finalised and submitted to the Management of GRDM, the Municipal Managers Forum of the District (MMF) and a Council workshop today for further deliberations and input in the month of June. The next step is to develop a website where residents of the Garden Route can access up to date information on the GRSM.

Another essential part of the GRSM concept is establishing a clear link between skills development and jobs, which will only be possible by the GRSM team working closely with Local Economic Development (LED) Units at each municipality in the Garden Route. This approach will help to inform decisions by utilising demand-based methods toward skills development.  This means that economic demand would need to be linked to skills development projects and programmes.  This will result in people studying towards careers where there are jobs vacant.

A partnership-based approach is the only way that such an ambitious process will succeed. At the moment, a pressing and challenging risk faced is the lack of funding available for skills development. Creating partnerships between all the relevant public and private sector is vital to the success of this programme. However, the GRDM is engaging all economic levels to try and source funding for this innovative approach to skills development and job creation.

ENDS