A skills planning mechanism takes shape through the LMIP (Human Sciences Research Council)

Research to support the development of a skills planning mechanism for South Africa through the Labour Market Intelligence Partnership (LMIP) has made significant progress in the past year. The starting point for the research was the recognition that the country did not have a reliable institutional structure to monitor the dynamism of the labour market and thus inform skills planning accordingly. To address this gap, research in the LMIP contends that the planning mechanism should consist of two inter-related functions:   (i) a Labour Market Information System that would be tasked with collecting, collating, analysing and disseminating labour market information; (ii) a decision making process based on labour market intelligence to inform skills planning. In this way, the LMIP views the skills planning mechanism as both a process and a structure.

The present skills planning system is supply led. The LMIP proposes that a developmental state model should underpin South Africa’s skills planning approach. Greater emphasis should be given to demand-side considerations, where economic priorities are an important factor in informing the skills agenda. Inputs from key partners are required to manage skills supply and demand, and to determine how resources may best be invested in skills development. Obtaining and managing information is a critical function and the mechanism must be able to coordinate, produce and utilise valid and up-to-date information on supply (using data from HEMIS and the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Management Information System, private post-school education and skills development providers, workplace training data, etc.), on current demand (using data from StatsSA, job vacancies, scarce skills lists etc.) and future demand (using data from new business and government growth initiatives and other research).

The LMIP proposes a new mechanism for planning that adopts a top-down and bottom-up approach to the skills planning process. At the top of this planning mechanism will be the National Planning Commission (NPC) and Cabinet. The NPC has produced the National Development Plan and it can be expected that the Planning Commission, through the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) could be responsible for developing a more integrated plan, ensuring that there is more coordinated or ‘joined up’ thinking among government departments. At the national level the Planning Unit, with the Skills Planning Council, will play an important developmental role, particularly around tracking major changes implemented by other government departments, as well as other  changes in the economy, and in identifying their implications for skills development. The core of the planning process will continue to be focused upon the SETAs, universities and technical vocational education (TVE) colleges that would be focused on managing supply and demand at the sector level. For more detailed information see: http://www.lmip.org.za/news/lmip-update-2014

The LMIP supports the White Paper on Post-School Education and Training’s (2013) position on the establishment of a Centralised Skills Planning Unit (renamed CSP Intelligence Unit – CSPIU) which will be responsible for understanding skills supply and demand and support improved decision-making processes. We propose that the CSPIU be located within the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). The DHET would be responsible to ensure synergy and cooperation amongst government departments.

The work of the LMIP is on-going and further refinement of the models and approaches proposed will be undertaken.
A range of LMIP outputs may be found on the project website: www.lmip.org.za

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) has been contracted by the Department of Higher Education and Training to lead and coordinate research towards developing a credible institutional mechanism for skills planning. A consortium consisting of the HSRC, the Development Policy Research Unit (UCT) and the Centre for Researching Education and Labour (Wits) has been established to drive the research agenda known as the Labour Market Intelligence Partnership (LMIP).


For further information contact Dr Rushil Ranchod at rranchod@hsrc.ac.za