President Jacob Zuma laughs as he delivers his State of the Nation address after the formal opening of Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday evening.

Johannesburg - The nurses' union, Denosa, has welcomed President Jacob Zuma's emphasis on improving education and his plans to establish a presidential remuneration commission.

“We hope this plan will also be directed at resolving the current skills drought in nursing education, as a speciality as nursing colleges in the country struggle to attract tutors due to non-provision for rural allowance for mostly rural colleges, and the way occupation specific dispensation (OSD) is structured for college tutors,” the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) said in a statement.

“Denosa's fear is that this aspect has not been looked into significantly, and is now beginning to affect the quality of nursing generally.”

It said part of the problem was that the application for OSD disadvantaged nursing tutors.

Nursing colleges were struggling to attract and retain tutors, which had a negative effect on the number and quality of nursing students.

“With the country gearing up for the implementation of the NHI 1/8National Health Insurance 3/8, Denosa is concerned that we may not be able to produce enough nursing graduates for this important project if colleges don’t have enough tutors,” it said.

Zuma did not divulge the full details of what the presidential remuneration commission would look at when checking the appropriateness of salaries for government employees.

However, Denosa said it hoped the commission's recommendations would include a solution to the nursing problem.

“It is a time-ticking bomb waiting to blast if it is not addressed soon,” it said. - Sapa