When considering a labour force, Sector Skills Plans (SSP’s) have two objectives. The first objective is to be the agent for the increased flow of a newly-skilled workforce into any sector. The second is to be a catalyst, driving the development of skills for the existing workforce.
In order to fulfil the first objective and ensure that the new crop of skilled employees adds value, they must be equipped with critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Developing these traits becomes a challenge since the school curriculum traditionally emphasises theory over the practical application of knowledge.
This is a cause for concern as the world of work today is organised differently than it was a few years ago. An emerging trend is having cross-functional project teams work on specific problems, rather than having those who specialise in the area work on it independently. Nowadays, there is less reliance on the top-down approach - managers don’t have all the answers and teams have to work together to find solutions.
However, it is only through having the ability to question and objectively criticise the foundations, that innovation can be achieved and viable alternatives presented.
When considering the second objective of developing the skills of the current workforce, it cannot be overemphasised that commitment to lifelong learning is of incredible importance. Businesses should focus on career pathways that promote equity and decent work. They should identify the need for assistance and implement up-skilling and trans-skilling. Continuous professional development and management development should be encouraged.
The workforce of today needs to embrace agility, adaptability and resilience. As the needs of clients change so must the companies who serve them. Likewise, the workforce needs to be able to adapt and learn new skills constantly. Lifelong learning is a value workers must adopt to remain a valuable human resource.