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Human capital dynamics in three technology platforms: Nuclear, space and biotechnology

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Department of Labour South Africa

Person/s author/s:

Lorentzen, Jo; Petersen, Il-haam


research report



In South Africa, big science was made part of the reconstituted national innovation system from the very beginning and has become more prominent ever since. It co-existed somewhat uneasily with lower-tech activities in national innovation strategy documents that were remarkable more for the range of activities they proposed to cover as opposed to the focus they established on selected activities (see DST 1996). This report does not address the trade-off between big science and other developmental activities. Instead, it focuses on a narrower question of efficiency, namely whether the country commands the kinds of human capital required to make big science work. This report focuses on human capital dynamics in three technology platforms: nuclear, space, and biotechnology. Each of these activities generates demand for skill and competences that are not always available in the country and for which South Africa at least in part competes against the rest of the world. For each platform, the report firstly reviews pertinent characteristics and trends for the platform and establishes the relationship between the demand for and the supply of skills, and finally concludes with recommendations.

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