Unlock Future Workforce Skills Development Now: Top Choices

Developing our future workforce through structured skills development. A forward-thinking approach to workforce development in South Africa.

Developing Our Future Workforce for Trades and Occupations.

Developing Our Future Workforce: A Strategy for Skills and Human Resource Development in South Africa

7Sundays offers skills development services for organisations interested in optimal education, economics and human resource management strategies.

Planning for the Future Workforce

South Africa’s socio-economic development hinges on the effective cultivation of skills and human resource capabilities.

Let’s take a look at the strategic framework underpinning skills and human resource development.

Challenges in Developing South Africa’s Future Workforce:

  • High unemployment and underemployment rates.
  • A skills gap where the workforce lacks the qualifications demanded by the economy.
  • Insufficient alignment between educational outcomes and industry needs.
  • Economic pressures necessitating efficient and cost-effective training solutions.

The Need for Future Workforce Development Now

South Africa faces significant challenges in terms of unemployment, particularly among the youth.

As of 2023, the unemployment rate stood at 32.9%, with youth unemployment alarmingly high at 61% .

This demographic challenge underscores the necessity for a robust strategy to equip the workforce with relevant skills.

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The Problem with Workforce Development

The primary problem is the inadequacy of existing educational and training systems to produce job-ready graduates who meet industry standards.

This leads to a persistent skills gap and underutilization of human resources, impeding economic growth and organizational productivity.

Specific Skills Development Problems Identified:

  • Mismatched skills leading to high unemployment rates.
  • Low levels of workforce productivity and efficiency.
  • Limited access to continuous professional development opportunities.
  • Insufficient collaboration between educational institutions and the industry.

Implications for Future Workforce Planning

The implications of not addressing these problems are severe.

Organizations may face continued high turnover rates, reduced competitiveness, and stunted growth due to a lack of skilled personnel.

Moreover, the broader economic implications include slowed economic development and increased socio-economic disparities.

Human Resource Development Implications for Organizations:

  • Higher operational costs due to inefficient workforce utilization.
  • Loss of competitive edge in both local and international markets.
  • Increased training costs and longer onboarding periods.
  • Lower employee morale and engagement due to skill mismatches.

Strategic Framework and Government Initiatives to Develop the Future Workforce

The South African government, through the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), has laid out comprehensive plans to enhance current and future workforce skills.

The National Skills Development Plan (NSDP) 2030 is a cornerstone of this effort, aiming to address the mismatch between skills supply and demand in the labour market.

Key Objectives of NSDP 2030:

  1. Align Skills Development with Economic Priorities: The plan focuses on high-growth sectors such as information technology, engineering, and health services.
  2. Promote Inclusive Economic Growth: Targeting marginalized groups, including women and persons with disabilities, ensuring equitable access to skills development opportunities.
  3. Enhance the Quality of Education and Training: By improving the standards of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and ensuring that qualifications meet industry needs.
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Bridging the Gap to the Future Workforce: Learnerships, Apprenticeships, Internships, and Bursaries

South Africa has approximately 34.2%of the population under the age of 15 and 66.6% between 15 and 64 years .

This demographic presents both a challenge and an opportunity for future workforce strategies.

Leveraging this youthful population through targeted skills development can significantly boost economic growth and innovation.

Youth Interventions to Shape The future Workforce

Learnerships, apprenticeships, internships, and bursaries are vital components in South Africa’s strategy to address the NEET challenge and develop a skilled workforce.

By providing practical experience, financial support, and aligning educational outcomes with industry needs, these programs contribute significantly to reducing unemployment and fostering economic growth.

Solve NEET Growth Statistics

South Africa faces a significant challenge with its NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) population.

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey by Statistics South Africa, in 2023, approximately 3.5 million young people (aged 15-24) fall into this category.

To address this, the country has implemented various programs such as learnerships, apprenticeships, internships, and bursaries.

Key Initiatives and Programs for Future Workforce Development

These skills development initiatives play a crucial role in developing our future workforce.

They provide practical experience, financial support, and pathways to employment.

  1. National Youth Policy 2020-2030: This policy focuses on integrating youth into the economy through education, training, and employment. It emphasizes entrepreneurship and digital skills to prepare young people for the Fourth Industrial Revolution .
  2. Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework (HEQSF): Aiming to streamline and enhance the relevance of higher education qualifications, this framework ensures that graduates possess skills aligned with market demands. It includes the integration of work-based learning as a crucial component​ (UNESCO Documents)​.
  3. Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs): These bodies play a pivotal role in implementing the NSDP by facilitating sector-specific training programs and promoting partnerships between industry and educational institutions​ (HEE NHS UK)​.
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Learnerships: A Pathway to Professional Skills for the Future Workforce

Learnerships are structured learning programs that combine theoretical education with practical training in a workplace setting.

These programs are designed to provide young people with the skills needed in specific industries, thereby improving their employability.

Benefits of Learnerships:

  • Skill Development: Participants gain both technical and soft skills relevant to their chosen field.
  • Work Experience: The practical component ensures that learners have real-world experience, which is highly valued by employers.
  • Accredited Qualifications: Successful completion of a learnership results in a nationally recognized qualification, often at NQF Level 5 or higher​ (The Mail & Guardian)​​ (Gov.za)​.

Learnerships have shown to be effective in reducing unemployment.

The Skills Development Act and the National Skills Development Plan (NSDP) 2030 emphasize the importance of these programs in aligning skills supply with market demand​ (UNESCO Documents)​​ (CIPD)​.

Apprenticeships: Building Trades and Technical Expertise

Apprenticeships are another form of vocational training, focusing on trades such as plumbing, electrical work, and carpentry.

They combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction, typically lasting several years.

Benefits of Apprenticeships:

  • Specialized Training: Apprentices receive in-depth training in their trade, making them highly skilled professionals.
  • Employment Opportunities: Many apprentices are offered full-time positions by their employers upon completion of their programs.
  • Industry Standards: Training is aligned with industry standards, ensuring relevance and quality.

Apprenticeships are crucial in addressing the shortage of skilled tradespeople in South Africa.

The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) and the SETAs (Sector Education and Training Authorities) support these programs to ensure they meet industry needs and standards​ (HEE NHS UK)​​ (CIPD)​.

Internships: Bridging the Academic and Professional Worlds

Internships provide students and recent graduates with the opportunity to gain work experience in their field of study.

These workforce programs typically last a few months to a year and can be either paid or unpaid.

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Benefits of Internships:

  • Professional Experience: Interns gain valuable work experience that enhances their resumes.
  • Networking Opportunities: Internships provide a platform to build professional networks.
  • Career Insight: Participants gain insights into their chosen industry, helping them make informed career decisions.

Internships play a critical role in bridging the gap between academic education and the job market.

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) collaborates with businesses to create internship opportunities that enhance employability and skills development​ (CIPD)​​ (Gov.za)​.

Bursaries: The Future Workforce Requires Financial Support for Education

Bursaries provide financial assistance to students to cover tuition fees, books, and other educational expenses.

These are often awarded based on academic merit, financial need, or to promote studies in high-demand fields.

Benefits of Bursaries:

  • Financial Relief:

Bursaries alleviate the financial burden on students and their families.

  • Access to Education:

They enable access to higher education for students who might otherwise be unable to afford it.

  • Focus on Studies:

With financial worries reduced, students can focus more on their academic performance.

  • Impact:

Bursaries significantly increase access to higher education and have been instrumental in producing graduates in critical fields such as engineering, health sciences, and information technology.

Government and private sector partnerships ensure that bursaries are available to a wide range of students​ (Gov.za)​.

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Measuring Impact and Progress Towards Future Workforce Readiness

Key Performance Indicators:

  • Enrolment and Graduation Rates: According to DHET, TVET college enrolments increased by 10% from 2019 to 2022, with a corresponding rise in graduation rates​ (CIPD)​.
  • Employment Rates of Graduates: Studies show that graduates from programs aligned with industry needs have a higher employment rate, underscoring the importance of relevant curriculum design .

Challenges and Future Workforce Directions

Despite significant progress, challenges remain:

  • Funding Constraints: Adequate and sustainable funding is critical for the continued improvement of educational institutions and training programs.
  • Industry Collaboration: Strengthening partnerships between educational institutions and the private sector is essential to ensure that training programs remain relevant and up-to-date with industry advancements.
  • Quality Assurance: Continuous monitoring and evaluation of educational programs are necessary to maintain high standards and improve outcomes .

Multifaceted Approach for Developing the Future Workforce

We need a multifaceted approach to develop a future-ready workforce.

Contact 7Sundays for help in addressing both high-level strategic planning and specific tactical considerations within organizations.

High-level strategic planning and specific tactical considerations for the future workforce

The emphasis varies depending on regional and sector-specific needs, but the overarching goal remains to align workforce capabilities with evolving industry demands.

1. Workforce Planning:

Aligning organizational needs with human resource strategies, focusing on both current and future workforce requirements​ (CIPD)​.

2. Workforce Transformation:

This involves adapting the workforce to meet evolving demands, particularly in response to technological advancements and changes in the global healthcare sector​ (HEE NHS UK).

3. Talent Management:

Encompassing recruitment, retention, and development of employees, talent management is crucial in strategic HR management​ (CIPD)​.

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4. Skills Development:

South Africa places a strong emphasis on upskilling and reskilling the workforce to meet modern job requirements​.

5. Future of Work:

As organizations prepare for future challenges, 7Sundays assists with the broader trends and transformations in work environments​ (CIPD)​.

6. Employee Retention Strategies:

Training and development strategies to retain employees are important tor workforce planning​ (CIPD)​.

7. Workforce Agility:

Adapting to change is often included within broader discussions on workforce transformation​ (HEE NHS UK)​.

8. Organizational Resilience:

The resilience of organizations in workforce contexts is embedded in broader strategic planning​ (CIPD)​.

9. Succession Planning:

Important for leadership continuity, but not as widely searched as general workforce development terms​ (CIPD)​.

10. Diversity and Inclusion in Workforce Planning:

The importance of diversity and inclusion is increasingly recognized within the broader workforce strategy discussions​ (CIPD)​.

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Exciting Skills Development Services to Prepare Your Future Workforce

Addressing South Africa’s workforce challenges requires a strategic blend of education, economic incentives, and human resource management.

Send Leonie an Email Today

7Sundays effectively facilitates these solutions, helping organizations develop a skilled, efficient, and future-ready workforce.


  1. Statistics South Africa. (2023). Quarterly Labour Force Survey
  2. Department of Higher Education and Training. (2023). National Skills Development Plan 2030
  3. Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities. (2020). National Youth Policy 2020-2030
  4. Department of Higher Education and Training. (2022). Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework
  5. National Planning Commission. (2021). National Development Plan 2030
  6. United Nations Population Fund. (2023). South Africa Demographic Profile
  7. Quality Council for Trades and Occupations. (2023). Apprenticeship and Learnership Programs
  8. Human Sciences Research Council. (2021). Impact of Internships on Youth Employment
  9. National Treasury. (2023). Funding Higher Education in South Africa
  10. Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). Annual Reports
  11. DHET. (2023). Technical and Vocational Education and Training Overview
  12. Department of Labour. (2022). Sector Education and Training Authorities Annual Report
  13. DHET. (2023). TVET College Performance Report
  14. South African Qualifications Authority. (2023). Quality Assurance in Higher Education

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