\"Soft skills\" training a real let down-NUMSA

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) is extremely perturbed

by the continued provision of “soft skills”, including HIV/Aids, health and safety skills

training by major metal, motor and engineering companies.

This takes place in the face of skills crisis gripping the country, with the labour resource

survey predicting a possible increase in semi- skilled labour requirement by 20% a year.

The demand for skilled artisans, meanwhile is approaching almost 25 000.

Most manufacturing companies, meanwhile choose to offer inconsequential “soft skills”

in place of urgently required skills development while the critical skills pool cannot meet

the industry growth needs.

And, in an angry response, the union shop stewards have withdrawn from participating in

skills development committees in most affected companies.

The impact of this reality, says NUMSA training sector coordinator Malebo Mogopodi, is

that several companies allow employees to undergo soft skills training just to be able

recoup skills levy contributions from the government fund

“This basically means that the predominantly blacks and previously disadvantaged are

never going to have access to further training. And, this defeats the whole purpose of

skills development which is about affirming the previously disadvantaged and redressing

the imbalances of the past,” Mogopodi said yesterday.

Some employers have been claiming that they could only not release employees to go on

training on condition that the production line is not disrupted.

It would appear companies are allowed in the process to look down upon learnerships

programs since they (employers) peddled lies claiming that the deterioration of the

apprenticeship system is the major reason for the skills shortages.

“We are also worried that the focus on training is shifting towards unemployed youths at

the expense of the employed,” she said.

NUMSA supports the proposed skills gap turnaround through the Joint initiative for

priority skills acquisition that ensured a pool of people who would be in a position to

replace permanent employees should be considered for re-training when they go for


Other options should include retraining of retrenched workers and unemployed graduates,

through sectoral education and training authority funding in order to help learners earn

allowances before they were considered for full time employment.

NUMSA is vigorously engaging industry associations to ensure skills training offered

were influenced by equity considerations and the pace of technological change, since

employers often complained that employment equity targets set by companies were

difficult to achieve due to skills shortages and lack of experienced candidates.

For further information contact

Mziwakhe Hlangani, NUMSA national information officer

Cell phone: 082 9407116