Measuring and Analysing Skills Shortages and Surpluses

Course Description:

The thorny issue of skills shortages surfaces in the media on a regular basis with an ever-growing mantra of calls for governments to do more to address this problem. Not a day passes without employers and trade unions citing skills shortages as a major obstacle to economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation.

The term “skills shortage” may appear straight-forward: insufficient supply of workers to meet demand at current wage rates. When applied simplistically, notions of supply and demand can worsen skills shortages and expose public spending to the inevitable risks of under- or over-investment in education and training.

There is no one set of right indicators for measuring skills shortages. The quality of data, resources and time available, the short-or long-term purpose and the specific interests of those involved determine the most suitable approach to be employed for measuring skills shortages. In brief, it is not a question of choices between good and bad, but choices among alternatives, all of which are legitimate.

Measurement systems cannot be defined priori. It is a question of purpose, timing, costs and capacity.

Do we have a clear understanding of the term “skills shortages”? Are skills scarcities and skills shortages the same? What are the theoretical perspectives and assumptions underpinning skills shortages? How are skills shortages generated? How do we measure skills shortages in terms of available resources at our disposal?

What methods should be employed to determine occupations in high demand? How do we overcome information deficits? What are the limits of measuring skills shortages? How do we analyse occupational labour markets? How do we develop a dashboard of relevant skills shortage indicators? Is skills immigration good or bad? What is the latest thinking on the subject?

Our programme seeks to answer these and many more questions in an easy-to-understand manner. We begin a process of empowering participants with a core set of skills, tools, concepts and methods to analyse skills imbalances in occupational labour markets.

Participants are exposed to cost-effective methods of measuring skills shortages and surpluses.

This programme is a must for people involved in skills research, policy-making, planning and industry development.

Target Audience:

The workshop is ideal for policy-makers, planners, researchers, trade unionists, employer representatives, education managers, consultants, municipal officials, NGO employees and people involved in skills planning and labour market information systems, growth strategies, skills strategies and industrial policy.

Employees working in the following departments are encouraged to attend: national, provincial and local governments departments; public sector agencies and parastatals; SETAs; TVET Colleges and universities; trade unions; employer associations; companies; research institutes and NGOs.


At the end of the programme participants will be able to:

  • Conceptualise the many complex dimensions of determining skills shortages and surpluses.
  • Identifying key indicators for measuring skills imbalances.
  • Conducting diagnostic analysis of skills imbalances using case studies.
  • Begin the process of developing a skills shortage and surplus framework relevant to a particular industry.

Learning Methods And Process:

The course is based grounded firmly in learner-centred approaches. It requires critical analysis, reflection and deep discussion of complex issues by participants. The course integrates theory with practice and gives considerable weighting to practitioner experiences. This enables rapid implementation of new skills to the work environment.

Learning is experiential and results-based; methods are active, participatory and practice-oriented and make use of information and communication technology (ICT). At least 60% of the time is used for structured and facilitated learning through sharing experience among practitioners, practical exercises and applications (no more than 40% presentations by experts).

The course is benchmarked internationally for new insights and contextual relevance.

The following methods are used to deliver the programme:

  • Individual and group presentations by participants
  • Group work of a “hands-on” nature
  • Case study analysis
  • Individual activities

Participants are encouraged to share ideas, relate common problems and create networks after the programme is completed.

We also offer coaching and mentoring services to key staff post-training to build knowledge and skills in this field. This is separate to the course intervention.

Themes to be Covered:

Main themes to be covered:

  • Theoretical perspectives to skills shortages and surpluses
  • Approaches to measuring skills imbalances
  • Occupational labour market information and analysis
  • Research methods for measuring skills imbalances
  • Identifying key skills shortage and surplus indicators
  • Developing skills diagnostic frameworks
  • Overcoming information deficits
  • International best practices


The course is delivered over 3 or 5 days depending on the choice of the client.


Due to our commitment to customise the learning intervention for client institutions, we encourage group bookings of a minimum of 10 participants.

Cost of Workshop:

The cost of the workshop depends on whether it is delivered off-site or on-site. The cost is available on request from FR Research Services. Corporate discounts are available for 10 or more participants per cohort.


Contact Prof Hoosen Rasool:

Key Facilitator

The workshop is facilitated by Prof Hoosen Rasool who advises several governments and training authorities with national skills planning. He brings cutting-edge knowledge, tools, applications and insights to the programme.

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