SOUTH Africa ranks 56th out of 144 countries, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2014/2015 Global Competitiveness Index.
Last year the country’s ranking was 53rd out of 148.
The index looked at 12 “pillars” – institutions, infrastructure, macro-economic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technology readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation.
In higher education and training, South Africa ranked last in the quality of maths and science education. The country was 140th out of 144 for the quality of its education system.
In labour market efficiency, it ranked last in co-operation in labour-employer relations and 143rd out of 144 for hiring and firing practices.
However, in some areas it did well, ranking number one for the strength of its auditing and reporting standards.
In financial markets development, it came first in the regulation of the national securities exchange.
The country scored low rankings in the areas of health and education, especially in the quality of primary education, where it numbered 133rd out of 144; tuberculosis cases (143); business impact of tuberculosis (136); HIV prevalence (140); and the impact of HIV/Aids on business (136).
Professional services firm Grant Thornton said auditing excellence was not enough for foreign investment and South Africa needed to fix its education, health, and labour sectors.
“While it’s heartening that we have managed to retain the top spot worldwide in this area for the past five consecutive years, the… report once again drives home the enormous dichotomy hampering the competitiveness of our nation,” the company’s Johannesburg chief executive, Andrew Hannington, said yesterday.
“These failings discourage foreign direct investment and hinder South Africa’s long-term economic growth and stability,” he added.