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Getting Skills Right: South Africa

image of Getting Skills Right: South Africa

This report identifies effective strategies to tackle skills imbalances in South Africa. It provides an assessment of practices and policies in the following areas: the collection and use of information on skill needs to foster a better alignment of skills acquisitions with labour market needs; education and training policies targeting skills development and investment for individuals and employers; job creation policies to develop skills through on-the-job learning; and policies facilitating the entry of migrants with skills that are in demand. The assessment is based on country visits, desk research and data analysis conducted by the OECD secretariat.

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Executive summary

As one of the world’s largest emerging economies, South Africa’s economy has seen significant improvements in recent decades. The economic composition of the country’s output has been changing rapidly, moving away from resource-based industries and the manufacturing sector, towards a larger service sector. In this context, the existing stock of skills and its mobilisation into the labour market represent important bottlenecks for the country’s further development. Educational attainment has increased substantially over the years but a large share of South Africans still leave the education system before finishing upper secondary education. Furthermore, South African students in secondary education perform poorly on international tests, suggesting that the quality of initial education is low. Educational outcomes are strongly dependent on socio-economic factors, with students from disadvantaged backgrounds at most risk of attending low quality schools and dropping out from secondary education. As a result of large gaps in education and labour market outcomes, South Africa has one of the highest levels of income inequality.

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