De/colonising Theoretical Literatures and the Educational Qualifications to Unpack the Grotesque Skills Gap in South Africa


  • Christiana Kappo-Abidemi
  • Christopher Babatunde Ogunyemi


decolonialization; educational qualifications; skills shortage; knowledge acquisition


The research uses decolonial theory to delineate the conceptualisation of the academic qualifications provided by South African tertiary institutions and their relevance to closing the national skills gap. Decolonising the South African educational system represents a progressive approach that is new to both students and educators. Both government and employers acknowledge a skills shortage in South Africa. However, the question of where the skills should be provided is unanswered. Graduates are expected to have specific skills before entering the labour market. The study uses desktop research that focuses on secondary data to explore the phenomenon. The research has two objectives: to present a decolonial explanation of the relationship between academic qualifications and national skills needs and to explore ways of integrating current academic qualifications offered by educational institutions in South Africa to address the national skills gap. The study explores how the content of the National Qualification Framework and its relevance in skills development can be decolonised. The study found that the existing educational qualification programmes in South African tertiary institutions are unable to address the skills gap effectively due to emerging needs highlighted in recent literature. To address this issue, there is a need to restructure academic qualifications to better align them with the country's skill shortages or explore alternative approaches to aligning knowledge and skills. The study recommends examining the national skills shortage beyond the higher education institutions’ academic structure and looking at other factors, such as workplace discrimination in training and development. Collaboration between stakeholders, employers and tertiary education institutions should be encouraged for curriculum development and alternative means of skills acquisition.


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