Scarce Skills Development Fund (SSDF)


The Skills Development Act (No. 97 of 1998) provides a framework for addressing the severe shortage of skills in South Africa, and aims to make the learning system more responsive to the skills requirements of industry. The SSDF addresses the severe shortage of various critical skills in South Africa by supporting Honours, Masters, Doctoral and Postdoctoral students. Within the SSDF programme there are strategic projects such as Black Researchers/Academics Development (BRAD) and Masters in Accelerator and Nuclear Sciences and Material Sciences (MANuS MatSci). The National Skills Fund (NSF) contributes funds towards the SSDF for targeted students.
Target groups

students, with every attempt to meet the following targets:

  • 85%  Blacks  (African, Coloured, Indian);
  • 54% Women;
  •  4% Students with disability


  • To increase the number and quality of South African postgraduate students in specified scarce skills areas;
  • To work towards increased race and gender representation; and
  • To develop, in conjunction with the higher education sector, industry and government, postgraduate courses to meet specific needs of the country.

Strategic Projects

BRAD is a three-way partnership between the NRF, Eskom and seven universities (Universities of KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, Limpopo, Cape Town, Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch and Fort Hare). It aims to increase the critical mass of academics that are currently needed in the SET sector. Support is for Masters and Doctoral students conducting research in areas that are of national importance and of interest to Eskom.
MANuS MatSci is a Masters programme in physics with two streams namely: Masters in Accelerator and Nuclear Science, and Masters in Material Sciences. This strategic intervention is jointly run by University of the Western Cape, University of Zululand and iThemba Laboratory for Accelerator Based Sciences.