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Re: How does affirmative action and skills shortage affect recruitment?

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SUITABLY QUALIFIED CANDIDATES

According to the EEA, suitably qualified employees from designated groups must have equal opportunity and be equitably represented on all occupational levels. The employer achieves this by appointing suitably qualified candidates, ether from the internal or external pool of candidates. This must be achieved through affirmative action measures being applied and implemented. The question to be asked is when is a designated person suitably qualified for a position? Clearly, designated people are previously disadvantaged and therefore do not have the necessary skill, education training, qualification or experience. If these qualifications are set for all the candidates in the organisation, then the unfairness will be perpetuated as the designated groups will again fall foul due to a lack of skills, training, qualification or experience.

For this purpose the EEA defines suitably qualified people for the purpose of affirmative action in section 20(3). It should be noted that Section 15 of Chapter 3 specifically states that affirmative action measures are measures designed to ensure that suitably qualified people have equal employment opportunities and are equitably represented in all categories and levels of the workforce. There is therefore no requirement on a designated employer to apply affirmative action measures to people who are not suitably qualified. Although, it is the prerogative of the employer to make provision for people who are not suitably qualified, by way of training, development, mentorship, counselling, etc.

According to the EEA, a person may be suitably qualified for a job as a result of any one of, or a combination of:

that person’s formal qualifications;

    *prior learning;
    *relevant experience; or
    *the capacity to acquire within a reasonable time the ability to do the job.

During the recruitment process of an AA candidate, the employer must take all or some of the above factors into consideration when deciding whether a person is suitably qualified and may not unfairly discriminate against the person solely on the grounds of that candidate’s lack of experience. A lack of experience will therefore be unfair unless the employer can make out a good case as to why experience would be necessary for a specific position (core function or inherent requirement).