Establishing a foundation for labour market information systems in South Africa

The Labour Market Intelligence Partnership's research agenda is organised in six priority areas. Each research area has a leading subject specialist or team at its helm and a unique objective, design and methodology.

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Learn more about research leader and LMIP programme director Dr Vijay Reddy of the Human Sciences Research Council 

Context and research objectives

Though both local and global labour markets are potential sources of unpredictability, governments cannot simply concede the skills planning space to market forces. 

The South African government actively seeks to confront the twin scourges of persistent unemployment and poverty deriving from apartheid historical factors and structural features of the domestic labour market associated with weak labour absorption, and rising aggregate employer preferences for higher workforce skills levels.

Following a development state model, the South African government aims to ameliorate these conditions which exacerbate social and economic inequality by actively steering skills demand and supply.

This will entail driving a pro-active industrial strategy that favours job creation, and securing reliable supply of appropriately skilled graduates from post school institutions.

It must harmonize education, graduate production and skills development more effectively with economic sector planning, and expand its capacity for labour market intermediation such as matching work seekers and employers.

To pursue such an active labour market policy, government must invest in institutional capabilities for increasing data supply, tracking and analysing labour market behaviour to support skills planning and formulation of skill development policy and strategy by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) the Sectoral Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and, communicating labour market signals to workers, work-seekers, and employers.

These functions depend on a sustainable Labour Market Information System of technical excellence generating accurate and reliable empirical information, and a cadre of personnel with the skills and absorptive capacity to support the creation and utilisation of valuable labour market intelligence.

Design and methodology

This aspect of the LMIP's research agenda represents an applied research project that will proceed in a close working relationship with the DHET. Research projects intend to feed the development of frameworks, which in turn, should guide how DHET constructs its operational systems.

The applied research therefore plays a role in supporting development of the technical data infrastructure of the DHET’s Labour Market Information System (LMIS), through which institutions are linked for the purpose of sharing data and information.

It was clear from early on that conquering this challenge would not be achieved through designing a single ‘big-bang’ solution.

The design of an array of projects is informed by an appreciation of the diversity of development issues at stake - from interactional to institutional to conceptual to empirical to technological.

Though each project has a unique purpose, all projects are oriented to the creation of an optimal environment to host and to sustain a credible institutional mechanism for skills planning.

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