SA: world’s worst skills shortage, highest brain drain, productivity plummeting

...and it’s going to get worse

South Africa has the world’s highest brain drain and worst skills shortages of 55 countries studied and its productivity is plummeting.
This is according to Productivity SA and the 2007 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook.

South Africa also ranked last on infrastructure, internet costs, health problems, availability of qualified engineers and life expectancy. Its top rating – 1 – last year for electricity to industry is likely to plummet this year.

Liza van Wyk, the CEO of major skills training organisation BizTech warns that the situation is worsening and load shedding is exacerbating it. “If you go into any shopping centre or business where the power is off, you see staff sitting around chatting. Managers have failed to find productive work for them to do when the lights are off, this will cut into profits, see job losses, add to inflationary pressures and see South Africa’s economic ratings fall further.

“South Africa can’t afford to have managers fail to plan for load shedding, especially when Eskom is more reliable about sticking to schedules,” Van Wyk said. She suggests that paper work, deliveries, cleaning, calling clients and staff duties that don’t require electricity should be slotted into defined work schedules for staff. “If you leave it to staff to innovate, most won’t, they don’t realise their jobs are at stake, it is up to managers to lead.”

Overstretched staff, a lack of training and poor management saw productivity ratings plunge after a decade of sustained growth – last year SA fell from 38th to 50th out of 55 countries.

South Africa also has among the world’s most severe shortages of those with finance skills and senior management competence ranking 52nd and 51st respectively.

BizTech’s course: Ultimate Organisational Skills is seeing more companies wake up to the cost of having non-productive staff or those who fail to plan their work-days efficiently.

Debbie Watson, a trainer for Ultimate Organisational Skills says delegates often lack structure and discipline in their work day. “It is clear that many fail when it comes to time management, they don’t have a proper working structure or efficient processes.
“Work volume plays a huge role in terms of slowing people down and with skills shortages administrative staff in some sectors are swamped with more work than they can handle. They need help in identifying what tasks are critical from a business point of view. An overwhelmed individual is likely to do what is easiest first and delay doing complicated, but perhaps more critical tasks.

“Often a top performing worker with an inability to say no, sees them swamped. They start underperforming simply because they are overwhelmed. There is then a knock on effect down the line, delays in one section cause every other part of the work conveyor belt to start malfunctioning, which can cause conflict between staff as one department may complain they are consistently being held up by an individual or another department.”

Productivity SA research showed that South Africa had a 3,2% per annum increase in private sector productivity since 1996 which fuelled international competitiveness. Van Wyk says: “The more productive a national economy is, the higher the personal income of workers and the lower inflation. Sending administrative staff on a two day course like Ultimate Organisational Skills is a simple and cost-effective way to rapidly address challenges.”

The 2007 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook of which Productivity SA is a partner institute showed a drop in South Africa’s rankings from 38th position to 50th position out of 55 countries. Factors contributing include South Africa’s economic performance competitiveness dropping from 40th in 2006 to 54th in 2007, high unemployment and low GDP per capita.

“The ratings show we need to relook at labour policies urgently,” Van Wyk said. The rankings showed government efficiency declined from 25th in 2006 to 35th in 2007. Weaknesses included discrimination hindering economic development at 55th , personal security and private property protection 54th, exchange rate stability 53rd and labour regulations which hinder business activities 51st.

“The private sector continues to perform strongly but inefficiencies in government are starting to sabotage the overall economic outlook,” she said. Productivity SA’s data shows that private sector business efficiency was steady at 32nd while productivity and efficiency increased from 56 in 2006 ranking to 44 last year. Stock market capitalization as a percentage of GDP was at an impressive 4 and adequate financing to companies from stock markets ranking 17th.

15 countries including South Africa, Indonesia, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and France are losing ground compared to the top league.

Biz Tech Fast Facts:
Biz Tech is an equal opportunity company.
Biz Tech courses include: Mastermind the Perfect Corporate Function; Finance and Budgets for PAs; The PA MBA; Business Communication; Professional Office Manager; Project Management for PAs and Administrators, etcetera…

LIZA VAN WYK, CEO BIZTECH 011 997 9800 or

Issued by MediaOnLine