HRDC to focus on policies and systems to improve educational outcomes

Young people need a qualification to compete in the labour market, according to chairperson David Mabuza.

The Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) has held its fourth summit under the theme “Skills Required for the 21st Century”, during a three-day hybrid sitting.

The HRDC, which was established in March 2010, is a multi-stakeholder advisory body that aims to improve the foundation of human resources in South Africa.

HRDC chairperson and deputy president David Mabuza, who provided the opening address, stressed the need for the inclusion of women in economic reconstruction and recovery efforts.

“This summit takes place two days after we commemorated Women's Day, which is a reminder of what still needs to be done towards the full emancipation of women and fulfilment of the aspirations of those who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956,” he said.

“In pursuance of their aspirations, we should consider how this summit advances the struggle against poverty, inequality, patriarchy, prejudice and exclusion of women, people with disabilities and key populations from accessing skills and broader development opportunities across all facets of life.”

He also noted that the summit took place “under unprecedented conditions presented by the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"At an economic level, recent results from the Quarterly Labour Force Survey reveal that, in the first quarter of 2021, structural unemployment stood at 32.6 percent and this figure is worse amongst young people, standing at 46.3 percent and among university graduates at 9.3 percent. These statistics are real and reflect faces of stifled and deferred dreams, hopes, opportunities and capacities. They are also an outcry of our country’s human wealth that is not fully explored,” Mabuza said.

He added, “For this summit we are limiting ourselves to ensuring that we agree on policies and systems that will improve educational outcomes, and also ensure that young people stay in school until they attain a qualification, thereby placing them on an equal footing with their peers as they compete in the labour market.”

He also proposed that “equally, government, civil society and the private sector ought to address the issue of young people that drop out at various points of their schooling, prior to attaining their matric qualifications”.

He bemoaned the fact that the fruits of democracy would be incomplete unless the youth and women had access to opportunities to lead lives they desire.

"The past 27 years have given us ample lessons to draw on and decide what works and what does not so that we improve our present circumstances and shape a better future for our country and the world. This collective task falls on our generation’s shoulders to address and we dare not postpone it,” Mabuza said.