Our country requires an economy that can meet the needs of our economic citizens, our people and their enterprises – in a sustainable manner.
"This will only be possible if our economy builds on the full potential of all persons and communities across the length and breadth of this country. Government's objective is to achieve this vision of an adaptive economy characterised by growth, employment and equity by 2014."
(Department of Trade and Industry, March 2003, South Africa's transformation: a strategy for broad-based B-BBEE.)
The disempowerment systems and mechanisms used under apartheid purposefully restricted the majority of South Africans from meaningful participation in the economy. This has resulted in massive economic imbalances, with the majority of South African citizens being excluded from the economic mainstream and the creation of wealth being confined to a racial minority. The apartheid system literally imposed underdevelopment on black communities.
Over the past five years South Africa has experienced gross domestic product growth that is better than the world average. Despite this the growth factors have been small and the process of economic empowerment and the redress of economic inequalities have been much lower than desired. One of the most critical reasons stated for the disappointing pace of transformation is the scarcity of skills. In order to create an enabling environment in which economic growth may continue while allowing effective transformation to take place, the skills profile of the South African population needs to change and move towards reflecting the demographics of the country, while still meeting growth needs and maintaining standards.