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Skills for productive citizenship for all: The place of skills development for micro and small enterprises in South Africa

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Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) l

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McGrath, Simon


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Three important elements of a South African vision for high skills must be spreading skills improvements across the population in general, creating policy coherence and constructing new institutions. This article examines these issues through an investigation of the micro and small enterprise (MSE) sector and, in particular, through an analysis of the evolution of policies for this sector over the first decade of democracy. It considers policy development by the three most relevant government departments: Trade and Industry, Labour and Education. The article concludes that the impact of the South African state in promoting 'skills for productive citizenship for all' has not been as successful as hoped for. In particular, attempts to balance skills needs at all levels have not always been reflected in coherent cross-sectoral policymaking or in effective implementation strategies, including the development of new institutions. Nonetheless, the vision continues to be deepened and reiterated in ways that suggest that there is an ever-keener official appreciation that a coherent strategy and implementation approach for meeting the skills needs of MSEs is an essential prerequisite for achieving an inclusive upskilling vision.

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