Schooling – The Perilous State of the Nation’s Workforce & School Leavers


Schooling - The Perilous State of the Nation’s Workforce & School Leavers
Schooling – The Perilous State of the Nation’s Workforce & School Leavers

A short read 2 minutes

Schooling – The Perilous State of the Nation’s Workforce & School Leavers
The budget presentation allocated funds to almost everything. But as a person involved in “education” and skills development, I can’t help feeling disappointed with the poor quality of school leavers, who in general are not ready to work productively.

Since 2016/17, funding for education & schooling as a percentage of the total budget has decreased from almost 19% to around 15%. The funding is being reduced but it still is one of the world’s highest in terms of the percentage of GDP. Almost 80% is spent on salaries and remuneration. Even Universities complain that the new graduates are not ready for tertiary education.

The basics of numeracy and literacy are extremely poor, and the buck is passed on to the employer to remedy the decade-plus of inadequate schooling. Employers have to upskill foundation skills before sending their employees on more advanced courses.

In my case, I have noticed the following, especially over my years of Excel and Word training. I have ignored other complex courses like Project Management, MS Project, Excel Dashboarding, etc.
1. It appears to be beneath the current generations’ perception to attend a basic course and 90% try to attend the advanced courses with the resultant “dissatisfaction with the facilitator” when they return to the workplace and can’t apply the new features.
2. The need to teach even basic things like creating a percentage. Calculating VAT or net of VAT is a thirty-minute exercise, and the retention is poor.
3. Conceptualisation, creating tables of content, linking formulae across sheets and interactive dashboards can be extremely and occasionally impossible to explain.

The current “attack” on corporates for employing too many foreigners is possibly a result of the failing education/schooling system.

We have created Work Ready programs to try and bridge the schooling gap and short circuit the time to make the newbies productive. We incorporate work documents in the training to ensure job readiness and a smoother transition.

Some may say that I am generalising the perception of poor schooling but don’t be distracted by those students from private schools (4,6%) as they are the minority of school leavers. We have yet to factor in the additional years lost due to the impact of school closures during COVID-19 and don’t the mental health of these students.

I would love to hear your views from your perspective in the workplace.

This is not a political view but an observation about Schooling in South Africa & The Perilous State of the Nation’s Workforce & School Leavers and how it impacts the workplace. The sooner everyone takes ownership of this crisis the better South Africa will be. We should all be trying to mitigate another looting spree which is a distinct possibility as the number unemployed is HUGE40% is a guess, no one knows. The Arab Spring tipping point was about 30% unemployment.

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I look forward to any comments and whether your company has started using shorter workshop training sessions.  Our Work Ready courses can be customised. Arnold email

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Arnold has been involved with training since 2003 and is the Managing Director and Owner of College Africa Group, a national training company in South Africa.

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