This paper argues the case for re‐visiting the concepts of high and low skills as used in academic and political debates in the older industrial countries. There the concept of low skills has, for a number of reasons, acquired negative connotations in that low skilled jobs are seen to “drag down” the economy and therefore something which policy should avoid creating. However, by examining the experience of some of the newly industrialised societies, we witness a situation in which policy makers have deliberately used the creation of low skilled jobs for the purposes of taking people out of poverty and triggering the move into higher skilled, higher value‐added jobs. In the light of this experience it is argued that there is a role for the South African government to take a more pro‐active stance in developing low skilled employment as a prelude to moving the economy up the value‐chain
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