The Alignment of Black Economic Empowerment and Skills Policies in South Africa
This paper explores the relationship between the goals of broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) and those of the skills development policy in South Africa. We review the relationship between the policy tools that have been developed for each of these policies. The paper finds that while the high-level goals of the two sets of strategy seem to be well-aligned, there are many challenges in practice. The first relates to National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS), whose key purpose is improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the country’s skills development system. The strategy represents an explicit commitment by government to encourage the linking of skills development to career paths and career development as well as to promote sustainable employment and in-work progression. However, the strategy lacks a tightly defined set of priorities, making it open to manipulation in terms of the achievement of targets. The second challenge relates to a host of implementation problems with skills policy in South Africa. At the same time, the monitoring mechanisms of the BBBEE code focus on whether skills training takes place, the numbers of people who access workplace experience and levels of expenditure, rather than on the extent to which the skills development activities result in the intended outcomes of the policies (either the BBBEE policy or the NSDS). This reinforces the first problem – a focus on measurable targets, rather than fundamental policy goals in both policies.