South Africa is experiencing low growth and constrained economic activity. Added to this is the ever in creasing pressure of the unemployment rate, which jumped to 29 percent in the second quarter of 2019. To reverse this trend, the annual economic growth needs to be at least 3 percent, and we will only achieve this by adapting crucial areas to aid in stimulating inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development. One such focus area is human resource HR development.

The education system is struggling to equip the workforce with skills to future proof them in our transition to a resource based to a knowledge based economy. As a country, we must now focus on creating a new generation of workers who will be empowered to drive innovation, creation and adoption of disruptive technologies. The lack of formal education for entrepreneurship and the creation and adoption of an entrepreneurial mindset is clearly evident by our con strained economic activity. A school level intervention with subjects focused on business related topics is required to incubate entrepreneurs and opportunity seekers for the future. There needs to be an emphasis on future focused skills development, especially in science, technology, engineering and maths STEM , and ICT learning in order to maintain a competitive and innovative business environment and workforce.

There also needs to be support mechanisms to increase the levels of uptake and usage of technology and innovation. This would drive our progression into a knowledge based economy and lead economic growth and development through growth industries, which are characterised by high growth, high profitability, and low consolidation. And the promise of new opportunities for jobs and new businesses such as information,.communication and technology ICT , services and agriculture. The prevailing South African HR model is not equipped to deal with our current socioeconomic challenges, which are compounding the country’s low growth and constrained economic activity. The business environment is complex and varied, and HR policies and procedures need to evolve and adapt to suit the unique demands of the changing business and economic landscape in which our changing workforce operates.

HR professionals in South Africa need to shift their focus from meeting the needs of a static workforce in an unchanging centralised system to an approach that is instead focused on strategic organisational outcomes. This will empower HR departments to be flexible, innovative and entrepreneurial and able to evolve, adapt and partner with business to achieve those outcomes and drive change.

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