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Public sector under fire as skills shortage deepens

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The public sector is facing a severe skills shortage crunch and, although the government has recognised this, it is making the mistake of fast-tracking training to reduce costs and to place candidates in elevated positions as quickly as possibly – which is a possible recipe for disaster. 

This is the viewpoint of Dominique Lagasse, sales director of IT training company, IT Intellect, who adds: “On the plus side it appears the government has clearly recognised that the public sector is straining under a serious skills shortage. It has also realised that training of staff is required to overcome this gap. But, while they recognise this, they are trying to cut back too much on training costs by looking in the marketplace for the best prices possible.
"We are naturally keen to move deeper into the public sector market but we are finding that where we would find more advantageous to train a candidate on a certain skill for three days, due to the lack of a solid foundation we are having to cut this down to one day  due to cost restraints from the government’s side," Lagesse says.
“The government does not want to over-spend on training. That makes sense, but by cutting costs to the bone it is not providing the best results in the long term. When we, as a training company, pitch for government tenders we have to sharpen our pencils – but we are getting the feeling that we cannot provide the level of training that we would like to.
"Moreover, the idea of fast-tracking candidates’ training and moving them into staffing positions as fast as possible is not really elevating, or improving, the skills shortage as public service employees are sometimes being placed in positions that they are not yet ready for due to a lack of training – or due to the fact that their training has not been comprehensive enough.”
Lagesse adds that it is important for government to seriously address the “training issue”.
“Any training is better than no training. But fast-tracking training with employees is not the route to go. We are only reaching half-measures and this is not the solution.
"But, besides needing to train current employees in the public sector, it is obvious that on the ground level – at school level – a lot more needs to be achieved. Although we are a new and burgeoning democracy, the country also urgently needs to consider the skewed matric exemption statistics, where black students are still under-achieving – despite the improved economic, social and political dispensation that came with the new democracy.”