Skills Development

Skills Development in South Africa is governed under the Skills Development Act 97 of 1998, which has subsequently been amended a number of times. The national government's Department of Higher Education and Training is responsible for managing and developing all higher education and skills development training. The current Minister is Dr Blade Nzimande.

A conference has been held in the North West province to co-ordinate skills development initiatives in the region. Funding from the provincial government and other sources will be focused on the crucial skills needed in sectors that form the backbone of the provincial economy such as mining, agriculture, tourism and manufacturing.

"A number of skills taught on the Fasset-funded Guarantee Trust Bonani Work-Readiness Programme have proved portable, even as far afield as Ethiopia,' says Fasset CEO, Cheryl James. The programme which works towards creating learnerships within accounting practices for PDI graduates, has successfully placed hundreds of learners into the profession.

While a shortage of assessors has been identified as a national problem, Fiona Cameron-Brown finds that every other person she speaks to is either an assessor or about to go for assessor training! Identifying the problem as the lack of a system to match registered assessors to the training providers who need them, Cameron-Brown explains how a new service plans to address the problem.

In a guest column, Shannon Davidoff expresses the concern that formal skills structures such as Setas, Saqa etc are out of reach of the small businesses that really need them. Davidoff's efforts at RPL for current staff have lead to increased company profits - as much as 300% in some cases.

"With the introduction of Asgisa and Jipsa and the move towards importing skills from abroad are we sending a message that says: As South Africans we have not done enough about addressing the very principles that we believe in and accept?" Rooksana Rajab proposes Recognition of Prior Learning as a tool for redress.

How do Seta management address the needs of their board while still meeting their service level agreements targets from the Department of Labour? Does this make Seta CEOs the servants of two masters? Sylvia Hammond continues her exploration of Seta governance structures.

According to Fasset CEO, Cheryl James, Seta management boards have managed to "fly beneath the radar' for a very long time. "One should never lose sight of the fact that Seta CEOs, together with their staff, operate according to Management Board directives," she tells us.

The SA team of top hairdressers came away from the 2006 International Hairdressing Championships in Moscow, Russia with top awards in a range of categories. The Services Seta supported the team as part of their efforts to ensure local skills are compared against global peers.

"I hold the view that a seta is only as successful as its sector allows or enables it to be", says Bankseta CEO Frank Groenewald. "This implies that the sector must take total ownership for the entity thus ensuring that the Seta will deliver to the sector in a transparent and accountable manner".

The WandRSeta has called on business leaders in the wholesale and retail sector to attend a one-day workshop that will speed up the acquisition of the critical/prioroty skills that are needed in the sector. The workshop is in response to the Department of Labour's call for Seta plans to be aligned with Asgisa and Jipsa objectives.

Bankseta CEO, Frank Groenewald, recently presented a paper on the Bankseta's International Executive Development Programme: Canada 2005, and its successes, at the eleventh Global Forum for Executive Development and Action Learning Conference in Montreal, Canada.

Properly trained staff enhance productivity and performance in their organisations, says Institute of People Development CEO Mark Orpen, and with action learning methodologies they don't have to spend weeks out of the office.

Who serves on Seta boards? Who puts them there and what relevant experience do they have? Do unions have the resources to fully participate in all Seta boards and do employers have a responsibility to monitor the work of the board representatives? Skills development expert Sylvia Hammond poses some questions about Seta governance systems.

The WandRSeta has started the process of compiling a sector skills plan to address skills shortages in the industry. Price Waterhouse Coopers have been appointed to assist in the process, which aims to promote employment equity and broad-based BEE through skills development.

While there is progress in improving standards in our public schools, the drop-out rate still remains a particular worry. And when we consider that the curriculum is about preparing learners for higher education, Marietta van Rooyen argues that the 99% of learners who need vocational and occupational skills are hardly catered for at all.

Imagine a portfolio of evidence which meets all requirements or validity and authenticity without producing reams of paperwork. Well its now a reality with an electronic product launched by the Prior Learning Centre and LeadTrain.

"This is a landmark achievement. These learners have achieved against great odds,' says Fasset CEO, Cheryl James as the first group of learners on the Seta's Education Upliftment Project graduate from the University of Fort Hare.

The Minister of Labour has announced that there have been allegations of gross financial mismanagement involving large amounts of money at a Seta that has been described as key to the national drive for economic growth.

How do you select training providers and how do you ensure that providers deliver quality programmes? Suzanne Hattingh draws on her experience with government departments, companies and training providers to present some answers.

The future of the South African economy in part depends on the creation of jobs in the SMME sector. Mark Orpen from the Institute of People Development believes that private training providers hold the key to developing this group.

The annual conference of the Association for Skills Development Facilitation (ASDFSA) held a panel discussion with three Seta CEOs and a number of leading SDFs to discuss the future of the skills development facilitator.

Auditing firm KPMG has made a contribution to the country?s skills development initiatives, by launching a women?s network which will see 20 previously unemployed female graduates working with the company for an initial 12 months.

Assessment College chairperson, Marietta van Rooyen believes that the conclusions drawn from Umalusi?s recent research comparing Grade 12 school subjects to similar N3 college subjects leave a lot to be desired. "The main conclusions seem to be foregone conclusions and come as no surprise". Read her full article.

Dr Malcolm Birkin has a tough questions for us: "How we can be possibly become internationally competitive if we continue to fail to adopt ANYTHING from international management in general, or from South East Asia in particular?"

South Africa's private sector must see the investment in skills not as part of corporate social responsibility but as a fundamental business imperative for their survival, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has said.

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