The skills shortage that is loudly pronounced in the so called developing nations is nothing but a fallacy. This perception of skills shortage is skilfully designed to cheat workers of their true labour’s worth and so is the abused concept of productivity. This in turn instills a sense of helplessness and powerlessness amongst workers which then fuels exploitation.

The skills shortage phenomenon reflects a failure in people management processes marred by the bad culture of managing by egos and comfort zone that manifests itself through prejudice, nepotism and favoritism in the workplace. The purported skills shortage does not reveal lack of occupational proficiency.

Skills management experts are dismally failing to structure real job requirements, design adverts compatible with the job and specifying academic qualification necessary to do the work. They habitually overstate work experience required, using culturally biased psychology testing mechanism and fall short of communicating to the suitable labour market segment.

People tasked with the technical work of compiling job specification seem not to be well developed in the science of requirement compilation. These practitioners ought to be at the same level as systems Engineers in technology or Architectures in construction. The job design is methodological in nature but it is commonly done by people who are least developed in logical training subjects like Mathematics. As a result of this qualification deficiency, line Managers end up with a job description substantially different to the human resource task at hand.

The greatest incompetency of the supposed human capital management authorities is exposed by their inability to match academic requirements with work experience needed for a position. There is general overstatement of requirements and unnecessary focus on knowledge of the specific environment. For example there is often requirements seeking experience on internally developed software that can only be known by people working with it in that office. On further interrogation it becomes clear that the software is based on general concepts of popular academic studies and would only take a few minutes to transfer the skill to use the particular software.

The workplace leadership responsible for selection and promotion do not spend enough time and money to understand the content of academic qualification and relations to work experience. There is lack of intense comparison between training outcomes competencies and qualification labels as well as lack of professional will to scientifically evaluate prior learning as legislated in South Africa.

The paradigm shift from psychology to administration within the human resource profession has been detrimental to the workplace. This has led to the underdevelopment of mental and best fit analysis tools for skills management. There is high cultural biasness in tools, feeding various prejudices in gender misconceptions, ethnic delusions and white supremacy ideology.

The evidence of abundance of skills is clear in the unemployed statistics. There are a great number of unemployed young graduates who hold management, training and engineering qualification which are said to be high on list of scarce skills. The amount of highly qualified and extremely experience people that are doing high paying low content job is equally astonishing.

A different socialization process is required for workplace to work for the whole of humanity rather than a few.

By Sbusiso Xaba