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Skills Shortages in South Africa: A Literature Review


  • Reza Daniels

    () (School of Economics, University of Cape Town)


This paper conducts a review of the literature on skills shortages in South Africa. It is demonstrated that different Government departments have different views concerning the definition of skills shortages. This is largely due to the omission in any official government literature of tying the concept of “skills shortages” to productivity. There is also a complex and frequently overlapping institutional architecture that undermines the effective administration of skills development. An important example of this is that the link between providing skills training and accrediting individuals with a qualification that acknowledges this training is very poorly administered, highlighting poor coordination between the Department of Labour and Department of Education. Among Sectoral Education and Training Authorities (SETAs), there is also under-performance on their mandate to provide skills training for the unemployed – an activity that is flagged in this review simply because of the strong public good nature to this activity and the fact that only SETAs are institutionally empowered to effect this change. A variety of policy recommendations are made with respect to both closed- and open-economy solutions to skills shortages. A key point is that immigration legislation must be relaxed in order to help solve the pervasive skills constraints in South Africa.

Suggested Citation

  • Reza Daniels, 2007. "Skills Shortages in South Africa: A Literature Review," Working Papers 07121, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
  • Handle: RePEc:ctw:wpaper:07121

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    Cited by:

    1. Loren B. Landau & Aurelia Wa Kabwe-Segatti, 2009. "Human Development Impacts of Migration: South Africa Case Study," Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) HDRP-2009-05, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), revised Apr 2009.
    2. Landau, Loren B. & Segatti, Aurelia Wa Kabwe, 2009. "Human Development Impacts of Migration: South Africa Case Study," MPRA Paper 19182, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Jonathan Crush, 2014. "Southern hub: the globalization of migration to South Africa," Chapters,in: International Handbook on Migration and Economic Development, chapter 8, pages 211-240 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Kutlu, Cigdem & Bioly, Sascha & Klumpp, Matthias, 2013. "Demografic change in the CEP sector," ild Schriftenreihe Logistikforschung 36, FOM Hochschule, Institut für Logistik- & Dienstleistungsmanagement (ild).
    5. Moyo, Laurane & Wehn, Uta, 2017. "Interaction dynamics: The case of the water sector skills plan in South Africa," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 91-99.

    More about this item


    South Africa: skills; training; education; SETAs;

    JEL classification:

    • A1 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics


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