SIKI MGABADELI: New data show that South Africans are obtaining qualifications at a faster rate than the country’s economy is growing. That’s according to the South African Qualifications Authority. The data show that the proportion of South Africans getting qualifications has risen consistently by 4% year on year, but GDP growth, as you know, stagnated to 0.3%in 2016. That means that there is a surplus of qualified people who cannot be absorbed into the mainstream economy.
Let’s chat to Joe Samuels, who is CEO of the Qualifications Authority. Joe, thanks so much for your time today. I don’t know if I should read it as good or bad – good that people are improving themselves, getting more qualified, and bad that we aren’t able to absorb them.
JOE SAMUELS: Look, I think this is good news in the sense that our trend report purely shows that the qualifications that people have been achieving have steadily increased over a 20-year period. Our report traces it from 1995 to 2014 – a 20-year period. So it’s good news.
Our report furthermore has tracked that more women are getting qualification achievements, as well as black people. We use “black people” not in the apartheid sense of the word, but in the sense that it includes African, coloured and Indian.
So it’s a good-news story all around. I think that the other point that one wants to make here is that unfortunately for a variety of reasons – and we can’t comment on those reasons – it seems the country is not able to absorb all the qualified people that are produced in our education and training system.
SIKI MGABADELI: We’ve seen that. It’s clear with the stats that we get from StatsSA and so on. So let’s just stick with the qualifications. What are people studying, what are the most popular qualifications?
JOE SAMUELS: Well, what the report has done is to break this down into the three sub-frameworks of the National Qualification Framework. So for example, there are those people who study at schools and also colleges. Then we also look at qualifications that came through the higher education sector, the higher education qualifications sub-framework. Then we look at qualifications in the workplace. In all those three sub-frameworks we have seen increases in terms of what I’ve been saying.
Now, if we then go to the question that you asked, which is what are the kinds of fields, if we look into the general further education and training framework, then it seems like one field is what we call manufacturing, engineering and technology. That seems to be one.
And then of course the other area that people are achieving quite a lot of qualifications is in the field of business – business management and economics and so on.
So those seem to be the ones where you have the highest number of people come through.
SIKI MGABADELI: Okay. And I see that nursing qualifications saw the biggest increase at 252%. I suppose in a country where we are concerned with public health and access to health services, that is a positive.
JOE SAMUELS: Indeed that I think was very positive, where that’s the case. And of course as you know our nurses are also being sought after by people in other countries. Our nursing professionals get recruited, as well as our medical doctors and so on, by other countries.
SIKI MGABADELI: We’ll leave it there. Thanks, Joe. Joe Samuels is CEO of the South African Qualifications Authority.