SA eyes better labour market intelligence

5 September 2012

A research project to develop a Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) System, which will enable the South African government and private sector to make better decisions in matching skills demand to supply, was launched in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The project – led by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) – aims to set up systems for reliable data indicating skills needs, supply and demand in the South African labour market.

HSRC chief executive officer, Olive Shisana, said the research will contribute to the development of a skilled and capable workforce for an inclusive growth plan.

“This is a unique partnership between the government and research community and this research partnership represents the largest investment for the research relating to skills development globally,” Shisana said.

She said there is an urgency to develop a skilled and capable workforce in order to grow the economy.

‘Refining tool for a skills planning approach’

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said that for far too long, the tools that had been used to prioritise skills in South Africa had been based on a limited understanding and analysis of the character, structure and shifts in the economy and the labour market.

He said that the LMI project and other related projects held the promise of refining tools for an informed and an informative skills planning approach, tailored to the specific needs and policy context of South Africa in the 21st century.

“This project is just one of the ways through which we hope to construct a common national policy narrative, institutional frameworks, and interfacing mechanisms for the country skills landscape. It is one of the its kind globally in terms of scope and national funds set aside in its support,” Nzimande said.

At an initial cost of R75-million, it is one demonstration of the seriousness with which the department takes the issue of establishing a credible institutional mechanism for skills planning, he said.

The research on the LMI project has been organised in six themes:

  • Theme one: Labour market analysis, framework, data and information systems
  • Theme two: Skills forecasting: the supply and demand model
  • Theme three: Selected sectoral analyses
  • Theme four: Reconfiguring the Post-School Sector
  • Theme five: Pathways through education and training and into the labour market
  • Theme six: Understanding changing artisanal and occupational identities and milieus

The project also complements the establishment of the Higher Education and Training Management Information System (HETMIS), as well as the department’s Career Advice Information System, both funded by the national Skills Fund.

Across the three systems, the integrated skills mechanism would house the information gathered from various sources including population and labour force, employment and unemployment, wages and salaries and skills demand.

Nzimande said that the data derived from HETMIS would be comprehensive enough to provide the data that would be required by the Labour Market Intelligence System and to be able to provide source data for the calculation of meaningful supply and demand indicators for the country.