Shortage of skills remain key for South African property sector
Published by eProp Commercial Property News
In the 2015/16 National Budget Speech, it was announced that Government would spend R813 billion on infrastructure over the next three years, presenting huge growth opportunities across some of the country’s key sectors, particularly within construction. However, whether this can be realised without addressing the shortage of key skills in the region remains to be seen.
One of the biggest challenges we currently face in South Africa’s property industry is that of skills development. In fact, figures by the Higher Education Department point to a shortage of 46,000 artisans in South Africa. This shortfall is a major concern, as indicated in PwC’s SA Construction 2014 report, which stated that more than two-thirds of CEOs in the construction sector were most anxious about access to key skills.
“The sustainability of the country’s property industry, which includes the construction and the financing thereof, rests more on its people than it does on property. The reality is that without access to a healthy pool of qualified and skilled talent, the SA property industry faces a significant structural risk,” says Portia Muyunda, Head of Human Resources: Nedbank Property Finance.
“As such, the importance of developing those who are already working in our industry, as well as training the next generation of skilled property industry employees, cannot be over-emphasised. The onus is therefore on all stakeholders within the industry to recognise and accept the responsibility they have to add to the talent pool,” says Muyunda.
Recognising this need to equip new entrants into the industry to enhance their skills and expertise in the broader SA property industry, Nedbank Property Finance partnered with Wits Enterprise to form the Nedbank Property Finance Academy, which is endorsed by the South African Property Owners Association.
“Over the past seven years, the academy has produced 269 Nedbank graduates from Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town after completing a 10-month, eight -module programme. This has included lectures and assignments on property economics and law, financial calculations and statements, finance and investment, structural defects and town Planning. Other highlights have included tours to various properties funded by Nedbank Property Finance.
Importantly, the academy has also been successful in prioritising the development of previously disadvantaged employees. According to the South African Institute of Black Property Practitioners, transformation within the property sector has made slow progress. Even after almost 21 years of democracy, it is evident that more needs to be done as one cannot separate the issue of skills scarcity with the need for effective transformation. The risk of increasing competition for available talent can, and should be addressed via the transformation imperative,” adds Muyunda.
The SA property industry has significant potential, particularly with Government’s stated support through nearly R1-trillion of funding; but it is vital that the threat of skills shortage and lack of skills development is prioritised, to ensure that the industry can truly benefit from the opportunities that exist.