Honourable Thulas Nxesi.
In his opening remarks, Tilson Manyoni, advisory committee chair at the Institute for the Future of Work (IFoW), reflected on the recent national dialogue on the future of work. It was dedicated to address the most pressing and important issues pertaining to the changing nature of work in the 21st Century and to come up with real, practical initiatives to address these issues. According to Tilson, this research partnership exemplifies an initiative to address these problems through research to determine the future skills that will be relevant in the public sector. He said, “This partnership is unique and special, since it speaks to the issues of a capable state, the professionalisation in the public sector and where the South African public is headed towards.”
Sharing his optimism for the partnership, Tilson said: “This partnership can go a long way in contributing to a better, capable state and it can be at the forefront of driving digital skills in the public sector.”
Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Innovation & Engagement, said the positioning and alignment of the Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority (PSETA) and TUT make the collaboration between the two partners the perfect work fit. “PSETA’s vision is at the heart of producing a skilled and relevant workforce in the country. TUT, as an institution of higher learning, is responsible to feed into this skilled workforce by producing future ready graduates who possess the necessary skills needed for the future public service sector workforce. Thus, the partnership aims to prepare the public service for the inevitable impacts of 4IR, which has introduced rapid digitisation and the spread of new technologies. Moreover, the South African public service sector is confronted by a “sink or swim” situation where it is compelled to adapt and take advantage of 4IR technologies to address the current socio-economic issues facing the country. The two projects (Skills development of ICT support staff and Future skills for the public sector in South Africa) agreed upon by PSETA and TUT’s IFoW, reaffirms TUT’s commitment to provide future-ready graduates while focusing on research and innovation to solve real-life challenges in South Africa.”
Dr Papu-Zamxaka added that the collaboration between TUT and PSETA will ensure that graduates do not sit at home after they graduated, since they will have the skills required by the public service sector. The research to be conducted will identify these skills, which will subsequently be merged with the curriculum of students. In this way, we will ensure that our students are future ready and highly employable.
“According to a report by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Africa (2022), over the past seven years, on average there has been 2.26 service delivery protests in South Africa daily. One of the root causes of the poor service delivery is a shortage of adequately skilled workers to carry out the public service mandates and reforms. UoTs play a pivotal role in safeguarding society and the preparedness of graduates by ensuring that our students are appropriately skilled for an ever-changing work world,” concluded Dr Papu-Zamxaka.
Sharing his thoughts, Thulani Tshefuta, PSETA AA Chair, said PSETA is elated to partner with TUT’s IFoW on this project, adding that the scientific research will help PSETA to understand the actual needs, as opposed to perceived needs, by providing evidence-based responses about jobs and skills needed in the public service sector’s future of work. “This partnership is further strengthened by the participation of the Department of Public Service and Administration,” he added.
Keynote speaker, Honourable Thulas Nxesi, acting Minister of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and Minister of Employment and Labour, elaborated on how critical it is to take advantage of the opportunity for research that revolve around the profound future of work changes that will take place in the labour market. The Honourable Minister also expressed his keenness for the research to reveal the opportunities that emerging technologies will bring whilst mitigating the disruptive elements or effects of the same technology on the labour market. Of particular interest from the keynote address was his advice to institutions of higher learning to align technical and ethical skills such as cultural, moral, and spiritual values. In his opinion, an integration of these two skills will ensure that public service sector servants will be able to add value to the South African public through exceptional service delivery.
Tseliso Mohlomi, Senior Director at TUT’s IFoW, responded to the question why TUT swiftly came on board to partner with PSETA for the purpose of this pilot research project that will focus on two areas, namely (1): Skills development of ICT support staff: a study on future ICT skills needs and baseline ICT skills analysis of ICT staff working in the public sector. (2): Future Skills for the public sector in South Africa: a research intervention focusing on the future of skills in the public sector. “The concept of the Institute for the Future of Work existed before I was appointed at TUT, however to me it was important for this project to be implemented as a matter of urgency when looking at the era in which we live,” he said.
“The partnership with PSETA has presented the university with a great opportunity to show that we don’t only talk about projects that we want to implement, but we actually implement those prospective projects,” he concluded.
Executive Dean of the Faculty of ICT, Soshanguve Campus interim rector and IFoW Technology Hub task team member, Dr Etienne van Wyk, said the project beneficiary, PSETA, is contracting the Faculty of ICT to investigate the challenges facing a capable public service. This will be done through researching the key gaps in ICT skills of public servants working in the public service ICT sector. “It gives the Faculty of ICT an opportunity to showcase our research skills and to contribute to this important project. It could have a major impact in contributing towards a relevant and capable future public service. The outcome of this research could also assist in shaping training interventions required for ICT support in the future public service. The Faculty will also be involved in working with the National School of Government to design and deliver such training interventions.”
Other prominent speakers at the launch included:
- Ms Bontle Lerumo (PSETA CEO) – Background of the PSETA/TUT partnership;
- Ms Yolisa Makhasi (DPSA DG) – Future of work in the in the public sector;
- Prof Thean Potgieter (Chief Director Research and Market Intelligence National School of Government – Future skills for efficient public service; and
- Prof Mashupye Herbert Maserumule (TUT Executive Dean: Humanities) – Building a capable state through skills of the future.
Please click here to watch the launch of the PSETA-TUT partnership on the Future of Work in the Public Service Sector.