I have been an ardent supporter of the notion that there is a critical skills shortage in this country, and that it is reflected in our organisations in underperforming executives, managers, supervisors and a workforce that seems increasingly disconnected. I have also been a supporter of the notion that this crisis stems from our failing education system. Recently, I discovered that there is another, misunderstood and unspoken, side of the skills crisis in South African businesses, writes Lindi Cawdry. In this article, Lindi gives us insight into this “other side” and offers possible solutions to jump-start skills usage and fully unleash human capital potential.
by Lindi Cawdry
Lindi Cawdry is an experienced management consultant in Productivity Management, Organisational Development, and HR Leadership and Development. Lindi is an HPCSA-registered psychological counsellor with an honours degree in Psychology from Wits and a BPsych (Trauma) from UNISA.
Leaders Unlimited specialises in South African-informed leadership development programmes, change management, executive search, and board advisory. Leaders Unlimited is a division of the Human Essence Group (HEG). HEG researches and designs consciousness-management leadership solutions that enable leadership teams and companies to manage the unique impact of historical and current socio-political challenges in South African companies today. For further information, contact Leaders Unlimited on +27 11 7221600 or visit http://www.leadersunlimited.co.za/ .
I have been tracking local business news channels and magazines which talk about an urgent need to increase productivity levels in the mining and manufacturing sectors, and increase the levels of service and problem-solving ability in service industries. I have been listening to universities and government stressing a critical shortage of engineers, doctors and other specialised skills. If you ask any senior executive, they tend to agree that of the many challenges facing this country, reducing the shortage of skills ranks right up there as a critical need.
This article is not going to contradict the issues listed above or indicate that they are not real or relevant; they are. But what I am going to present in this article are the results of recent research I have been conducting in a broad spectrum across South African companies. The results clearly demonstrate that many individuals classified as under-skilled or non-performing do in fact possess the technical skills, training and knowledge required to perform well at work. These results show very clearly that in many cases, although sufficient skills do exist, individuals are in fact under-utilised, and the need for them to apply their skills and abilities fully is often limited. What is even more concerning is WHY they are under-utilised. »