Skills development can solve your BEE problems

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Companies explore many models in their efforts to meet BEE requirements, but the most efficient and cost effective technique is the strategic leveraging of skills development initiatives.

Sarah Babb, Managing Director of The Skills Framework, one of South Africa's leading strategic skills development consultancies that has previously consulted to the Seta's on the Skills Development Act and to corporate leaders says, "A lot companies are not taking advantage of the well designed structures that can get them BEE compliancy and it's often because they don't know about or understand how to use the skills development structures effectively.

Babb says that all companies should take advantage of the skills development act which allows them to take advantage of various opportunities to get their BEE scorecard in order.

The codes of good practice that have been issued by the Department of Trade and Industry provide companies with standards and benchmarks by which they can asses their BEE status.

"Skills development has a direct 20% weighting on the BEE scorecard. This is usually based on the investment in the development of Black staff especially in the levels of professional, technical, and management to fast track transformation. The contribution of this weighting to the overall score, outlines government's commitment to skills development, and to ensuring that competency development is integrated at all levels of the organisation.

The Seta's provide companies with an avenue to address critical skills shortages within their sector, through the funding of various programmes.

Companies need to ensure that they are award of skills gaps that exist within their organisation, and from this audit, implement a graining plan to address these gaps. These capacity building programmes can take the form of learnerships, skills programmes, mentoring programmes, e-learning programmes or full time study.

The success factor, however, is that it needs to be aligned to the strategic direction and growth of the organisation.

"Meeting Employment Equity requires investment in skills development in order to have an equitable mix of skilled staff at every organisational level and counts for 10%. To ensure that this is sustainable, organisations need to evaluate the current competencies and skills of staff and identify ways in which their skills can be developed.

By developing and implementing sound competency and assessment processes, companies can ensure that they are able to meet their equity quota's whilst developing core skills. Effective competency and assessment systems will also ensure that organisations can develop personal development and succession plans that nurture and develop employees."

Babb notes that the social development component of the scorecard has a 10% weighting and also has a strong Skills Development leaning. Employing the disabled or inexperienced employees requires training on both sides because new employees need skills and current employees need to know how to integrate hem into the company's existing workforce and culture.

"Having black executive management counts has a 10% weighting and companies need to identify strategies to identify, attract, recruit, develop, and retain potential black managers as well as identifying those with potential from within and developing them to full competency levels. Good coaching, mentoring, retention strategies, leadership development, management, and supervisory training will serve as a good foundation to implement this component of the scorecard.

Enterprise development has a 10% weighting and this is another way where skills development features prominently as one of the best ways to empower another business is to share and transfer your skills to them. Strategies such as the mentoring of small business and work exchange programmes are ways in which the skills of top management can be transferred to newer entrants into the workforce.

Skills development is an essential element not only to acquiring the required points on the scorecard, but a way of ensuring that the other elements meaningfully integrated into the organisation's current and future development. This is not a quick fix solution, but requires long term planning and commitment, especially at board level.

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