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Sep 21, 2007

Closing the skills gap vital to South Africa's shared-growth aspiration

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There is a ‘major gap’ in the area of critical skills in South Africa, Gauteng Shared Ser-vices Centre (GSSC) CEO Mike Maile tells Engineering News.

“There is a consensus that we must seriously consider the issue of skills, more specifically attraction and retention, especially in areas like auditing, information technology, finance, and strategic human resource planning,” he adds.

Maile says that this is essential as South Africa is competing with some of the best global players in these fields of expertise, and to compete effectively, it is necessary to be equipped and prepared through acquiring adequate skills.

In its aim to improve service delivery, the GSSC is reviewing its operational model and will present a five-year review report to the provincial Cabinet.

The business sector has an import- ant role to play in transferring skills to small, medium-sized and micro- enterprises (SMMEs), Deputy Presi-dent Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said at the Shared Services Confer-ence hosted by the GSSC, in Gauteng.

Ngcuka said that it is essential to accelerate a shared economic growth and to continue to educate and train people and to ensure that grass-roots people share in the growing economy.

She pointed out that it was necessary for the private sector to strengthen collaboration with government and social stakeholders. “A small project funded and supported by a business can make a big difference to the lives of a community,” she said.

Ngcuka added that the public service must be more innovative in order to alleviate the ‘acute poverty’ many people face in South Africa. While there is progress in reducing poverty, Ngcuka commented that it was still too slow.

According to the development indicators midterm review published recently by the Presidency, in the year 2000, 50% of the population lived on less than R 3 000 a year, and, in September 2006, 43% of the population lived on less than R3 000 a year.

Ngcuka also said that while the review of government’s programme of action indicated that government was making progress, it was agreed that there was still a need to iden- tify interventions, which would further accelerate service delivery, and to increase capacity and efforts in partnership with the community, to meet developmental goals.

Maile says that there has been much debate in the past few years on State departments and the private sector in South Africa delivering on their core service mandate. He reveals that the GSSC, in its bid to deliver service and assist government departments to focus on their core mandate, has achieved milestones.

He refers to price stability and says, “With regard to procurement, we have been able to bring stability on costs, especially in the area of fast-moving consumer goods. Previously, departments would have paid different prices for the same products.”

Maile points out that, to help build an effective government, the GSSC will, in the next financial year, complete a business plan outlining its aim of creating a call centre hub in Gauteng. Future plans also include the possibility of establishing call centres in different areas, including the West Rand, in Gauteng.

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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