Addressing skills development in South Africa

Closing the gaping skills gap in South Africa

With each passing year, industries around the world continue to endure the pressures brought on by the ever-growing skills gap. Companies constantly identify a shortage of suitably skilled employees for vacancies. In a nutshell, the skills that employers want, are different from those that job seekers possess. Some might argue that the skills gap can be attributed to the high number of theoretical courses that are offered without any practical training in higher education; while others believe that skills development is a well-kept secret.

Unfortunately, this predicament cannot be remedied overnight. Unlike soft skills, technical skills development is a long, gradual process. One way to tackle this would be the government and corporates working to enhance a range of technical skills development organisations in South Africa.

Tackling skills development means fighting the unemployment rate which is increasing alarmingly. For graduates and school leavers, having skills to get the job done and remaining employed are crucial factors, for the economy as well as the country.

However, enrolment in skills development organisations is not as popular as it should be, especially now with the coronavirus pandemic, where people are pivoting careers; organisations are looking for different skill sets as they look to the future influenced by machines, as well as due to the changes brought on by the pandemic; and distance or online learning is gaining traction – making skills development training available to wider populations, particularly those who previously struggled to access skills training.

The many benefits of skills development include more opportunities, grows the economy, expands businesses and creates jobs.  We spoke to three such organisations that has left us inspired at the efforts and progress made to minimise the gaps for both businesses and industries, as well as individuals:

Infomage Rims Group

The Infomage Rims Group (IRG) is a boutique skills development organisation, dedicated to the empowerment of women, youth and people living with disabilities. During its inception in the 90’s, IRG carved a niche market for itself in the contact centre industry, project management space, and technology based entrepreneurial development.

By working closely with the Technology Innovation Agency, the organisation launched several initiatives that include programs in “Elevator Pitching”; Foresight and innovation; Venture Capital, and many more. The organisation has also conducted successful training in various sectors over the years.

“In 2016, the IRG gave 40 internet café owners the opportunity to provide internet access to more than 200 000 rural school children. In 2017, was chosen as a top 100 global start-up, out of 120 000, and was invited to present in Istanbul” said IRG’s Wynand Goosen. “IRG started with accredited training in New Venture Creation, in 2003, as one of the first providers to capacitate entrepreneurs. The group is still in contact with many of those successful start-ups. IRG also made a 13-part TV series, called the Starting Block, which was aired on SABC TV” he explained. These are just some of the notable successes of the organisation.

IRG is also very active in the creation of women focused programmes. One of them is the Pholile Academy in Soweto, which is focused on specifically training young girls to start their own hairdressing and beauty salons. On the disability front, the IRG continues to be a support to many organisations such as disability schools, the National Institute for the Deaf, Kaleidoscope Blind support and PinkDrive. 

Entrepreneurial development is one of IRG’s passions. At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the group started a Joint Venture with Shelfine (Pty) Ltd – a Route to Market Incubator that uses a very clever app to connect owners of township based shops with products at competitive prices, whilst creating independent field sales representatives in the process. The Shelfline process can capacitate as many as 10 000 entrepreneurs.

The success of IRG, remains dependent on its community – the support of corporate clients that sponsor learners makes it possible to empower young, unemployed black learners.

Corporates that wish to structure projects can look forward to credits for their BEE spend, in as many as 3 categories, as well as tax rebates on learnerships. For more information on their programmes, interested parties can visit

Skills Enhancement Group

Established with the purpose of building and supporting other businesses, the Skills Enhancement Group has grown from its small beginnings to becoming a trusted and renowned field leader.

The organisation is committed to providing business owners and entrepreneurs with the tools necessary to succeed. The group offers a variety of training services that touch on every facet of your company. Their services are designed to help business owners and entrepreneurs reach their goals.

The Skills Enhancement Group offers complete training services that are tailor-made to the needs of every business or individual. One of the highlights was when the group launched a fully accredited entrepreneurial development course that is NQF Level 4 (13 credits). Popular offerings are the N6 Electronics Training, Risk Governance & Management as well as Wellness Programmes.

Founder and CEO Dean Bailey says that the group has trained four black women on their ED programme who are success stories – with one of the learners having been able to open and operate her own business to-date.

Individuals and corporates who want to collaborate, reach out and access the services can reach out to the organisation on

About TechnoServe

TechnoServe is a leader in harnessing the power of the private sector to help people lift themselves out of poverty. A non-profit organisation operating in 29 countries – TechnoServe works with enterprising men and women in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses and industries.

By linking people to information, capital, and markets, the organisation has helped millions to create lasting prosperity for themselves, their families and communities. With over 50 years of proven results, TechnoServe believes in the power of private enterprise to transform lives. TechnoServe has a presence in South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe in the Southern Africa region.

The organisation’s main objective is to help grow strong markets that create opportunities, income and jobs for poor people in the developing world. Their programmes have the following outcomes:

  • Develop Capacity: by helping individuals and communities acquire skills, share knowledge, and apply the technologies needed to build successful farms and businesses.
  • Strengthen Market Connections: by facilitating coordination among industry players and connecting emerging businesses and farms to the necessary capital, networks and suppliers to help them grow their businesses.
  • Improve Business Environment: to encourage self-sustaining economic activity by addressing the policies, information and incentives that help markets function better.

TechnoServe has been active in South Africa since 2003 and has designed, managed and implemented programmes that have responded to specific needs of the population, particularly in Youth Development; Enterprise Development; Supplier Development; and Emerging Farmer Support Programmes. To date, they have worked with corporates, government and bilateral development agencies.

Together with Anglo American and Absa, TechnoServe currently implements one of the world’s largest local economic development programs, working across 8 mining communities, country-wide. The flagship Zimele programme supports jobs through three complementary and synergistic pillars – youth development, enterprise development and supplier development. TechnoServe’s portfolio of work includes working with the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation and Santam to implement The Box Shop incubation programme in Gauteng that prepares youth and women to be retail ready and be able to create employment through improving skills, productivity and income potential. TechnoServe is also working with the Citi Foundation on the Youth Ideas Development – Technology Program (YID-Tech), a skills and entrepreneurship development programme focusing on capacitating business-minded youths.

TechnoServe has worked extensively with youth, beyond South Africa. One of their flagship multi-country projects is the recently concluded Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise (STRYDE) programme in East Africa. For this project, TechnoServe and the MasterCard Foundation partnered to help rural youth in East Africa transition to economic independence. The skills crisis in South Africa is certainly a distinct one, but with organisations such as the ones listed above at our disposal, there is something that can be done to fill the gaping skills gap that currently exists. For more information, visit

1 Comment

  • Posted November 20, 2020 by Dean Baikey 0Likes

    Amazing and well written articles. So proud that organizations are assisting our ailing economy. We have huge Skills Gaps and by Developing our people to reach their full potential – it will add value in their lives. It’s time to focus on sustainability and growth. We cannot grow without the Right Set of Skills.

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