Under the impulse of global megatrends, such as technological progress and globalisation, the demand for and supply of skills has undergone substantial changes in recent decades. These changes can result in skills imbalances which can have strongly negative consequences for individuals, firms and societies. Individuals whose skills are not in demand in the labour market could face prolonged periods of joblessness, increasing the risk of poverty. When skills imbalances in the labour market are big, firms can have persistent difficulties in finding the right people, which could negatively affect their productivity. For societies as a whole, these imbalances could have a negative impact on growth and the overall well-being of the country.

Skills imbalances can be tackled through a range of policy interventions, including education and training, employment and migration policies. One of the key policy areas that can contribute to lower skills imbalances is lifelong learning. Adults who have left initial education, should invest regularly in keeping their skills up-to-date with what is needed in the labour market.

This report takes a closer look at lifelong learning in South Africa, with a focus on education and training activities provided by the Community Education and Training system. The report is structured as follows. Section 1 presents key statistics to show the urgency for investment in lifelong learning in South Africa. In Section 2 the current state of the Community Education and Training system in South Africa is described. Section 3 analyses the role that Community Education and Training could play, while Section 4 looks at possible funding mechanisms. Section 5 explores the topic of aligning training provision in the Community Education and Training system with local labour market and community needs, and Section 6 discusses the quality assurance of the system.

This work fits into a broader programme of work of the OECD on the functioning, effectiveness and resilience of adult learning systems across countries, and builds on the extensive work of the OECD in the area of skills, including rich analyses on the alignment between skills demand and supply, vocational education and training, and work-based learning.

The work on this report was carried out by Marieke Vandeweyer from the Skills and Employability Division of the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, with contributions by Pauline Musset from the OECD Centre for Skills. The work was supervised by Glenda Quintini (team manager on skills) and Mark Keese (Head of the Skills and Employability Division). The report has benefited from helpful comments provided by the Department for Higher Education and Training, and participants to a dedicated workshop organised in Johannesburg in October 2018.

This report is published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD, with the financial assistance of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. The views expressed in this report should not be taken to reflect the official position of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

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