Welcome to the Mpumalanga Provincial Government

Keynote address by Premier DD Mabuza at the Mpumalanga Provincial Human Resource Development Strategy Summit, Ingwenyama Conference and Sport Resort

18 August 2011 

Programme Director and Director-General of the Province, Mr Jacob Rabodila
Members of the Executive Council
Executive Mayor of Ehlanzeni District Municipality, Cllr Letta Shongwe
Members of the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature
Our traditional leaders
Heads of Departments and other officials from the provincial government
Representatives of Local Government
Our social partners, representatives of the business community, labour and broader civil society
Invited guests from various sectors, academia, research organisations, higher education institutions, the skills sector, professional bodies, and the youth
Fellow citizens, ladies and gentlemen

Thank you MEC Mhaule for the warm words of introduction.

It is an honour for me to be here with you at this Human Resource Development Strategy Summit.

Over the two days we must finalize the provincial Human Resource Development Strategy.

As MEC Mhaule has directed us, we would have failed if at the end of the two days we have not reached consensus on a common and shared vision for Human Resource Development in our province.

Let us give hope to the people of the province and show that we have their interests at heart by achieving the following milestones:

  • Reaching agreement on the nature of the Human Resource Development challenges that face us
  • identifying the strategies we intend to adopt in order to address them,
  • agreeing on the actions we will undertake in identified timeframes,
  • clarifying the institutional arrangements we must establish in order to effectively finance, execute, monitor and evaluate our interventions.

These were MEC Mhaule’s instructions and I am happy to begin this address by reminding you of them.

My task is one of elaborating on why we are here, the significance of the provincial HRD Strategy, and our expectations of each one of you from the different sectors.

Programme Director,

Human Resource Development is understood in many ways but the experts tell us that it essentially involves;

“Activities of education, initial training, continuous training, and lifelong learning that develop and maintain individuals’ employability and productivity over a lifetime”

Our country’s Human Resource Development Strategy- HRD-SA, on which there will be further elaboration during the course of the Summit, notes that;

“HRD refers to formal and explicit activities that will enhance the ability of all individuals to reach their full potential. By enhancing the skills, knowledge and abilities of individuals, HRD serves to improve the productivity of people in their areas of work – whether these are in formal or informal settings. Increased productivity and improvements to the skills base in a country supports economic development, as well as social development”

So in many ways, as the quotations suggest, Human Resource Development is important not only for achieving a growing and employment creating economy but also for us to begin to address poverty alleviation, inequality and underdevelopment.

In this day and age, with increasing global economic uncertainty and massive changes in the nature of competition in global markets, technological change and other manifestations of globalization, learning and knowledge have reached new heights of importance.

It is in this context, that HRD has been identified as a vital instrument in all government strategies to accelerate development.

However, as the International Labour Organization (ILO) warns us, HRD is not just about preparing people for the workplace, but broader human development;

“The economy becomes more productive, innovative and competitive through the existence of more skilled human potential. Human resources development and training also underpin the fundamental values of society - equity, justice, gender equality, non-discrimination, social responsibility, and participation.” 

We are gathered here at this Summit because the national strategy is quite clear on the role of provinces. We are not expected to just copy the national programme.

In terms of the document, the provincial or even local HRD strategy;

“need to reflect the priorities of the HRD-SA through the lens of local and sectoral conditions, cater for the indicators over which they have jurisdiction, and include activities and programmes that cater for their own strategic priorities and imperatives”.

In your deliberations at this Summit please consider whether our strategy meets these criteria.

Is it a strategy that truly reflects and responds to the conditions in our province?

For example, we are a rural province but how does the strategy envisage the promotion of Human Resource Development in the rural areas?

Or are we again leaving things to chance and in a few years we will pretend to be surprised when all the skills development is taking place in the towns, in Emalahleni, Secunda and Mbombela?

Programme Director,

We are gathered here largely because of our unhappiness with the state of affairs regarding Human Resource Development in our country in general and in our province in particular.

We recognize that these weaknesses in HRD will have negative impacts on our ability to establish a competitive world class provincial economy and deliver a better life for our people.

But how did we get here?

It must be recognized by all that colonialism and apartheid are the main culprits which institutionalized inequalities in access to assets, employment, income, residence, education and training, and social amenities such as health, social benefits and sanitation.

There were laws and regulations that ensured that HRD served a minority whilst the majority were expected to be at the margins of the economy and society existing only as source of cheap unskilled labour.

Don’t we all remember Verwoerd and his infamous statement that the black academic curriculum was to be limited to basic literacy and numeracy because Africans were meant to be ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water only’!

Since 1994, the ANC-led democratic government has attempted to undo the outcomes of such immoral policies. But the structural nature of the impacts means that we have achieved limited success.

The Human Resource Development challenges that our country and province face remain quite daunting. They are immense but must be addressed.

We must be steadfast as we seek to enhance the ability of all individuals to reach their full potential. This should be for all, be they white or black, male or female, in an urban or rural area.

The provincial HRD Strategy document highlights in more detail the nature of these challenges and will be presented at the Summit. However, please afford me the opportunity to note a few;

  • Our school system and the education we provide for our learners’ leaves a lot to be desired.
  • It gives me no satisfaction when the report on the Annual National Assessments placed the province number last in the mastery of literacy and numeracy in grades 3 and 6;
  • The higher education and training system is weak though improving. No one derives joy from the reality that the statistics show that only 7% of the population has tertiary education;
  • Unemployment is high and above the national figures. To worsen the picture the majority of the unemployed are youth. Some even get ‘discouraged’ to be part of the labour force and are sitting at home, idling, and not even looking for work
  • Our province has experienced a significant increase in the brain-drain and has a limited or no coherent strategy for the retention of critical skills;

The HRD Strategy for the province that should be adopted is one that will also address matching the supply and demand of skills. What employers need in levels of skills for their workers is what they should be able to get so that they can remain competitive, wherever they are located in the province,

 We should not shy away from assessing the whole institutional landscape for HRD in the province, so to address limited co-ordination and engagement with the SETA’s and the role of the Mpumalanga Regional Training Trust (MRTT)

We have to respond to the fragmented and lack of integrated planning for HRD how and it cripples sustainable HRD.

It is not just about the numbers. A few years ago the social partners set up the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) which argued that, “our central challenge is that there is a failure of systems to co-ordinate the availability of human capital with the required skill levels in the right amounts, at the right time’.

It is imperative that we respond appropriately as a province where such gaps exist.

Programme Director, 

Since the dawn of democracy the ANC-led government has prioritized human resource development as part of efforts to bring a better life for all.

HRD was prominent in the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), in the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) policy and an HRD strategy was first launched in 2001 with a review undertaken once a new administration was in place in 2009.

At a national level, the HRD-SA is complimented by

  • The National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) 2005-2010 (Including the Scarce Skills List 2007);
  • The Basic Education Strategic Plans which articulate on Early Child Hood Development (ECD) and Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET);
  • Further Education and Training (FET) Strategic Framework;
  • Higher Education (HE) Strategic Framework;
  • Immigration Policy; and
  • A HRD Strategy for the Public Sector.

Last year saw the launch of the national HRD Council which is chaired by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

As a province we have paid particular attention to these developments and that is why today we are pleased to present to our stakeholders a draft document, the draft provincial HRDS.

Our provincial HRDS has various aims and objectives but amongst these I wanted to highlight two which clearly show our seriousness in addressing the challenges identified earlier;

  • The Strategy aligns curriculum  at school, FET and tertiary levels according to the needs of the Mpumalanga Province in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Higher Education and Training; and
  • Provides action plans to address and retain these scarce skills within the province, which in turn will support the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy (PGDS) and the Mpumalanga Economic Growth and Development Path (MEGDP).

At this point one can also pay tribute to previous provincial government administrations that also elevated HRD and Skills Training in their programmes.

HRD was one of the pillars of the PGDS launched in 2005.

The province has also continued to support the Mpumalanga Regional Training Trust (MRTT).

MRTT is mandated to develop the human resource base of the Mpumalanga Province through the provision of experiential, practical, technical, hospitality, tourism, entrepreneurship and life skills training.

The main focus is to empower learners, primarily the disadvantaged communities, industry workers and government employees, to participate in the broader economic sphere of the province.

A notable achievement of the MRTT is that it is the only institution in the province and the second in the country that is accredited as a Centre of Excellence, to offer the construction related programmes.

Programme Director,

The challenges before us are immense. We want to finalize and adopt a provincial HRDS that is responsive to our needs and contributes to the development of our people.

This I must emphasize is not something that government can achieve alone. We need all role players to move with us.

The programme we need to embark upon is fairly simple in my view and I wish to just highlight a few areas for your consideration.

Education provides the basis for the development of the skills and knowledge required in the workplace and for human development.

As a government we remain committed to the objective of enhancing the quality of our education. We shall continue to improve the school infrastructure and support teachers and learners to achieve better outcomes at schools.

We wish to call upon all stakeholders to play their part. Let us collectively address the problem of high drop-out and repetition rates in our schools.

Once again I wish to congratulate those that supported our leaners to achieve an improved Matric Pass rate last year.

The provincial HRD Strategy will also hopefully give further impetus to the process of establishing a university in Mpumalanga,

We remain convinced that none of our noble efforts on HRD will succeed if we do not move with speed on the matter.

Allow me to express our appreciation to the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr. Blade Nzimande, for his continued co-operation and support in his regard. 

Programme Director,

Allow me to conclude by emphasizing the importance of the provincial HRD Strategy for our success as a province and in enhancing the possibility of us meeting the developmental targets being set out in the almost finalized Mpumalanga Economic Growth and Development Path (MEGDP).

As we deliberate during the course of the Summit, let us be mindful of these instructive words from the national HRD Strategy;

“HRD represents a key lever for accelerating economic growth and development in South Africa. The responsibilities of government arising from this strategy are significant. However, the strategy is not solely related to the responsibilities of government. It is a call to all stakeholders and agents that have a role to play in HRD: workers, employers, the non-governmental sector, educators, learners, parents, individuals and the community. It is a call to create a better life for all South Africans”

I thank you

Issued by the Office of the Premier, Mpumalanga Provincial Government

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