Sector Education & Training Authority Briefings: Public Service, Safety and Security, Local Government & Health and Welfare

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Labour

20 August 2007
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Meeting report

LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
21 August 2007
SECTOR EDUCATION & TRAINING AUTHORITY BRIEFINGS: PUBLIC SERVICE, SAFETY AND SECURITY, LOCAL GOVERNMENT & HEALTH AND WELFARE

Chairperson:
Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Presentation by PSETA
Presentation by SASSETA
Presentation by  LGSETA Report
Presentation by HWSETA: on Annual Reports 2005/6 and 2006/7

NOT RECORDED

SUMMARY:
The Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority briefed the Committee on its activities, covering its mission, scope of coverage, skills planning, learnerships, assessment procedures and challenges. It was indicated that it aimed to coordinate and facilitate delivery of appropriate learning programmes in order to improve the transverse skills in the Public Service. It had been re-established as a Schedule 3A entity, and its financing would be continued until 2009 through the voted funds of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), and in future through the contributions made by affiliating departments. The sector skills plans had been approved and 81% of the required Annual Training Reports were received. The achievements in skills planning, learnerships, and accreditation were set out. Challenges included the need for training of skills development facilitators, a better skills planning IT system and further funding to accommodate these needs. Learnership challenges included lack of discussion by government of intervention plans, lack of direct funding to facilitate delivery of learning programmes in line with targets, and the lack of administrative mechanisms. to deal with failures to register and signing of agreements. Challenges in accreditation included the slow increase in the number of providers and moderators, lack of implementation of the Recognition of Prior Learning framework, and non-signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Council on Higher Education. There was insufficient time to discuss the report fully and Members indicated that they wished to have a further session in which their queries could be addressed. Questions were asked, but not answered, on actions taken to ensure that workplace skills plans were submitted in time, the impact of the tool kit training, the implications of workplace readiness, questions around the leadership, why the Auditor General's report had not been mentioned, the reasons for the de-listing, and a call for further information on the finances.

The Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority briefed the Committee on its achievements over the last twelve months. It was intended to improve the marketing strategy to reach out to all areas in the country. A table of objectives, targets and successes was tabled and provincial targets were set out. Objectives included prioritizing critical skills for sustainable growth, development and equity in the industry, promotion and acceleration of quality training in the workplace, promoting employability, and assisting designated groups to enter the labour market or become self-employed. The range of programmes was tabled. The community involvement was noted. Challenges included the need for accurate reporting on the achievements of the service provider and employer base, and tightening of the procedures to ensure that all the necessary information was being captured. It was necessary to review contracts, and undertake further research on scarce skills. Lack of funding was a problem. Members asked questions on training of helicopter pilots, why most training providers were located in Gauteng, the gender imbalance in the industry and what was being done to address it, the targeting of a specific disability group, and the dispute concerning the CEO having left office.

The Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority informed the committee of a number of Memoranda of Understanding that had been signed with various provincial and national government departments, private sector institutions and other stakeholders in an attempt in particular to address the skills shortages in the country, with particular reference to local government. This SETA also detailed a number of training programmes and learnerships that it offered, and explained the funding details and the qualifications that were part of the programme. Skills gaps had been identified and the Skills Shortage Plan was attempting to address them, with committal of various funds, including R18 million from its own discretionary funds, towards this Plan. The outcomes were aligned with national priorities. Members engaged the SETA on the training programmes, the issue of accessibility, and high vacancy rates in local government. Some members expressed concern about the training of youth and the disabled. Issues of training on supply chain management were raised. The SETA was asked about its staffing situation.

The Health and Welfare SETA also presented information on the Memoranda of Understanding it had signed with various stakeholders. The SETA detailed that it had faced many challenges in 2005/06, including a qualified report from the Office of the Auditor General. Corrective action had been taken. A further problem related to the decline in the number of learners entering the top learnerships, because of reduced funding. The highlights for 2005/06 were listed, and these included exceeding the target of 300 Workplace Skills Plans. Challenges included reduced numbers of learners because of reduced funding. The possible audit issues in respect of the 2006/07 financial year were then listed, together with the corrective action that had been taken. This included introduction of a proper management accounting system to address completeness of revenue, and overhaul of the asset register system and supply chain management policy. Highlights for the 2006/07 period included compilation of a new Sector Skills Plan, recognition of 18 qualifications and accreditation of 106 service providers, as well as support to a number of firms, including eight black economic empowerment firms. Challenges included the establishment of new ventures, and challenges in service providers meeting the accreditation process. Staffing was also a challenge. This SETA was addressing scarce skills. Questions by Members related to lists of objectives and targets, support to disabled students, accessibility, and the apparent lack of participation from some stakeholders.

MINUTES
Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority (PSETA) Briefing
Mr Daniel Makhetha, Skills Manager, PSETA, apologized that the CEO and Chairperson had been unable to attend due to important commitments abroad, and due to the fact that this briefing date was originally planned for the previous session. The mission of the PSETA was to co-ordinate and facilitate delivery of the appropriate learning programmes in order to improve the transverse skills in the Public Service. All the National departments, Provincial Departments, Parastatals, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Foreign Affairs were covered by the SETA. It offered transverse skills training in policy development, leadership, project management and strategic planning. 

PSETA had been re-established as a Schedule 3A entity, and its financing would be continued until 2009 through the voted funds of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), and in future through the contributions made by affiliating departments in the future. It was in the process of establishing itself as an autonomous entity. The new Board had been appointed in terms of the approved constitution.

Mr Makhetha reported that the Sector Skills Plan (SSP) had been approved by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and Department of Labour (DOL). 129 out of 140 government departments had submitted their Work Place Skills Plans (WSP) and 81.1% of the required the Annual Training Reports (ATR) were received.

Other skills planning achievements included the development, in 2006/7 of a Guide on Public Sector Careers, based on the PSETA’s findings on scarce skills needs in the public sector. This would be presented to Education Departments in all provinces. Measures were also taken to improve the quality of the WSPs. 104 skills development facilitators had been trained and a Skills Development Facilitation Guide and Toolkit was developed during 2006 as an additional resource for Spatial Development Frameworks (SDFs) and other practitioners.

Challenges faced by PSETA included the need to train SDFs on more advanced skills, which was hampered by lack of funding. There was also a need for a skills planning IT system to enable the SETA to manage training information and monitor expenditure patterns.

Mr Makhetha noted that on the learnership side, the PSETA had deregistered eight learnerships, revised three, and registered four new learnerships. It had developed learner guides for public administration. It had supported government departments and developed step by step guides ion implementation of learnerships. Fifteen skills programmes had been put together. Challenges faced in terms of learnerships included the lack of discussion by government of intervention plans, the lack of direct funding to facilitate delivery of learning programmes in line with PSETA targets, and the lack of a mechanism to deal with failures to register and signing of agreements.

Mr Makhetha finally tabled some statistics on the steps being taken for assessments. Fifteen training providers were accredited, and programme evaluators had been trained. The PSETA was supporting state academies to obtain accreditation. The HR Connect (formerly HRMIS) system had been initiated for the sector. Challenges in this area included the slow increase in the number of providers accredited, slow registration of moderators and long feedback times, lack of implementation as yet of the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) framework, and the non-signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Council on Higher Education.

Discussion
Ms A Dreyer (DA) asked for clarification whether the presentation was an evaluation of the Annual Report or whether it was a summary of the Annual Report, which she had not received.

Mr Makhetha replied that he thought the Annual Report had been handed out.

The Committee noted that there was insufficient time for questions. The Chairperson agreed with the request of Mr O Mogale (ANC) that another meeting should be arranged to cover questions. The presentation had left the Committee with some unanswered issues.
 
Ms S Rajbally (MF) noted that lack of funding would hold back progress, and the issue of funding would have to be addressed.

Mr Tahir Maepa, Manager, PSETA, replied that DPSA had traditionally been the sole funder of the PSETA, but that this would be changing.

Mr B Mkongi (ANC) asked what the role of the National Skills Fund was in this whole process.

A member of the delegation confirmed that the National Skills Fund did not fund any of PSETA's operational costs.

The following questions were asked, but not answered at this meeting due to the lack of time:

Ms H Weber (DA) asked whether the challenges faced by the PSETA were a sign that there was an overlap or miscommunication between the various departments.

Mr Mogale asked what the PSETA was doing  to ensure that Department would be submitting their WSPs on time.

Mr M Mzondeki (ANC) asked for more information regarding the impact of the tool kit training.

Mr Mogale requested clarity on what workplace readiness meant.

Mr Mogale asked what actions would PSETA take against members that failed to attend board meetings.

Mr Mogale also asked why the leadership was terminated.

Ms Dreyer asked why the report of the Auditor General was not included in the report.

Ms Dreyer also asked why the PSETA was delisted.

Ms Moss stated that she would like further clarity on the finances.

Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA) Briefing
Mr Themba Mabuya, Acting CEO, SASSETA, tabled the achievements of the SETA under the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) for the previous 12 months. Sector skills plan had been signed off in November 2005. 330 skills development facilitators had been trained, and 2131 assessors and 676 moderators were registered. He also noted that 676 moderators were registered. The progress report also included verifiers that were registered countrywide. The strategy was to market SETA so as to reach out to all the areas in the country, through use of road shows that targeted rural areas, local radio stations, exhibitions and working with various departments.

Mr Mabuya tabled and explained the success indicators, that showed the objectives, the targets and performance against those targets. The objectives included prioritizing and explaining critical skills for sustainable growth, development and equity in the industry, and promotion and acceleration of quality training in the workplace. It further aimed to promote employability and sustainable skills development, and to assist designated groups, including new skills entrants, to participate in accredited programmes, in order to be assisted to enter the labour market or to become self-employed.

There were 40 registered learnerships in the sector, and the range of programmes was tabled. There were various adult learnership programmes, and Further Education and Training Colleges (FET Colleges). Breakdowns of the service providers across the provinces were given.

Mr Mabuya discussed the involvement of SASSETA in the community, focusing on the HIV project and disability programmes.

Mr Mabuya also discussed the challenges faced by SASSETA. These included accurate reporting on the achievements of the service provider and employer base, and tightening of the procedures to ensure that all the necessary information was being captured. It was necessary to review contracts to ensure that reporting obligations were clearly spelt out. The current research had limited data on scarce skills, and there was a need for further funding.

Discussion
Ms Dreyer asked why SASSETA was training helicopter pilots as she wondered if this training should not rather be undertaken by defence forces.

Ms Pretty Shuping, Chairperson, SASSETA, responded by stating that pilots were scarce and that accredited providers were needed to perform the training.

Mr Mogale asked whether the projects were on track. He further asked what was being done about the issue of training providers only being found in Gauteng.

Ms Shuping replied that most of the responses had been received from Gauteng. She had been concerned about this, and it was one of the reasons behind the marketing strategy.

Mr Mogale asked why there was a preponderance of males being trained, and required information on what SASSETA was doing in terms of gender.

Ms Shuping answered that the sector in which the SETA operated was male dominated.

Ms Rajbally asked whether there was any specifically gender-targeted recruitment.

Ms Weber asked why learners with hearing disabilities were apparently the only disabled learners being targeted, pointing out that other disabilities also warranted an approach.

The Chairperson asked for a report on assessors for the unknown training providers.

Mr Mogale questioned whether this presentation had been presented elsewhere.

Ms Shuping replied that the document had been presented to the Board and to the Department of Labour.

The Chairperson asked what had happened to the CEO of SASSETA.

Ms Shuping replied that the SASSETA had received a resignation letter, and had believed that the CEO was leaving for better opportunities. Later the SASSETA was informed by the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) that complaints of constructive dismissal had been laid. She indicated that the matter was presently sub judice.

Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA) Briefing
Mr Sam Maloka, Chairperson: LGSETA,  reminded the Committee that in August 2006 this SETA had reported on the Annual Report and achievements for the 2006 financial year. He also mentioned that in May 2006 the Board of the LGSETA  had resolved to support the sector in achieving its sectoral priorities and started to collaborated with a number of organisations and government departments. Memoranda of understanding were signed with a diverse range of government departments, professional bodies and educational institutions, as set out fully in the presentation (see attached document).

Mr Sidwell Mofokeng, CEO, LGSETA, informed the committee that the Sector Skills Plan was conducted last year to evaluate skills in the sector, and for submission to the Department of Labour and the Department of Local Government. The SETA had also been invited to serve on the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills in South Africa (JIPSA) Working Committee. He pointed out that during the process of evaluation certain occupational areas were identified where there were critical shortages of skilled people. These skills included engineering (electrical and civil), technicians and artisans (all types), municipal planning development planners, environmental health and emergency and disaster services, including the fire and rescue areas. Significant skills gap were noted in areas such as strategic management and planning, project and contract management, financial management and basic financial systems, administration, human resources, and basic literacy and numeracy.

The leadership in the local government sector had realised that there had been no formal training offered, in particular for local councillors, to familiarise them with the 136 relevant pieces of legislation with which they worked. LGSETA thus drew up a Training and Development Framework for Municipalities and Traditional Leadership. The framework would also regulate community participation. It offered two qualifications for councillors following on a training programme. 3 500 Community Development Workers were trained and 80% of them were placed within the sector. More projects had been approved by the Board of the LGSETA and the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG). He mentioned two of the programmes,  Assessor/Mentor programmes and Coach Training. A total amount of R87,9 million was allocated for these training programmes and bursaries. Mr Mofokeng highlighted that there was also a shortage of property valuers, with only 14 qualified valuers in the country. Here too there was an urgent need to put more money towards training.

Mr Mofokeng noted that there had also been significant improvement on the levels of compliance of municipalities in submitting Workplace Skills Plans (WSP), although there was still non-submission by some municipalities. The Sector Skills Planning (SSP) programme had seen a total of 13 395 learners being employed within the local government sector, after they had engaged in Adult Basic Training Programmes (ABET) programmes funded by the LGSETA discretionary grants in 2005/06. A provincial comparison was tabled. A further 80 000 people were earmarked for training in respect of municipal finance systems,  at a cost of R18 million.

The LGSETA had received an unqualified audit certificate for the 2005/06 financial year. The Skills Development Income Levy (SDIL) formed 80% of grant disbursements. Gauteng contributed most to this fund at 31.6% and Limpopo the lowest at 3.4%.

Highlights of the 2006/07 year had included Capacity Building Workshops for traditional Leaders in six provinces, and more Capacity Building Workshops for members of the Portfolio Committee on Provincial Local Government. Memoranda of Understanding had been signed with DPLG and four provincial departments of Local Government. The LGSETA had supported the National Treasury in training Municipal Finance Officers.

Discussion
Mr Mkongi asked for clarity with regard to training of women, the disabled and young people. He also wanted clarity on the SETA’s development programmes, asking who the target was, and asking also whether there was any particular focus on youth and people in the rural areas.

Mr Mofokeng responded that the SETA had not done very well in reaching targets in respect of disabled learners, but had recently formed a partnership with Rand Water and ran a project where the disabled were very involved. A Service-SETA Learnership had been started in Durban, where 14 disabled people were placed. It was acknowledged that more needed to be done in this category. With regard to women, he said that the SETA was proud that about 60% of the people participating in the development programmes were women. There was also significant youth participation.

Mr Mogale asked about Supply Chain Management and if there were any specific mechanisms being used in this function. He also voiced concern about the high vacancy rate in municipalities and asked what the SETA was doing to curb the problem. He wanted to know if the pilot projects were successful and how many were ready to be rolled out.

Mr Mofokeng responded that government had considered merging SETAs so as to be able to deal with some of the problems raised by Mr Mogale. He had pleaded that his SETA not be merged with any other. He felt that the media, the public and Members of parliament did not fully understand the legislated mandates of the SETAs, and that there was a need for more education and understanding about them. He said that in regard to Supply Chain Management, there had been some resistance from stakeholders on the programmes, but the National Treasury was giving assistance.

Mr Mzondeki said that he had not seen any of the projects presented in the parts of the country he had visited.

The Chairperson asked how far the SETA was in appointing a Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
 
Mr Mofokeng responded that the SETA had an Acting CFO, Ms Ntombenhle Nkosi. The CFO post was created as a new post, as in the past the SETA had only a Financial Manager. The incumbent in that post had approached the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), claiming that she should automatically have been appointed as CFO on creation of that post. The matter was sub judice and an update would be provided at a later stage.

The Chairperson asked for clarity on how much funding had been committed to the discretionary grant.

Mr Mofokeng clarified that R42 million had been committed to the discretionary fund.

Health and Welfare SETA (HWSETA) Briefing
Ms Thea Cronje , Chairperson, HWSETA, highlighted the milestones of the past financial years. In 2005 a first national conference had been held in Limpopo, and a third Annual General Meeting was held at Port Elizabeth. In 2006/7 the SETA had established a Monitoring and Evaluation Division (now known as RIME). She stated that the SETA had also faced a number of challenges. There was a need to give increased access to services to stakeholders in the rural and semi rural areas. In order to address these issues, the SETA had opened premises at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. An office in Durban opened in July 2006.

Ms Cronje explained that the SETA had received a qualified audit report in the last financial year. The Auditor General had raised a Matter of Emphasis that the Annual Financial Statements did not comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). The Board had contracted with Deloitte Touche to address all matters raised by the Auditor General.

In this period the SETA’s income had dropped by 1% cent, but expenditure had increased by 86%. There was therefore a need to reduce risk but still earn interest from funds invested. As part of the corrective action, funds were invested in low-risk interest bearing accounts with commercial banks.

Ms Cronje reported that the small firms had exceeded the target of 300 WSPs, sending 512 WSPs to the SETA. However, there was a challenge in that the number of learners in the top learnerships had dropped from 6 742 to 2 330 as a result of reduced funding.

Ms Cronje detailed some possible audit issues also for the 2006/07 financial year. A management letter had been received. Corrective action had already been taken on some of the issues highlighted. A proper management accounting system to address completeness of revenue would be put in place from August 2007. There would also be an overhaul of the asset register system. Training had been undertaken in respect of supply chain management and the policy was being reviewed to ensure that it complied with the legislation.

The highlights for the 2006/07 financial year were listed (see attached document). These included compilation of a new Sector Skills Plan. The HWSETA now recognised 18 qualifications and had also accredited 106 new service providers. The number of firms supported exceeded the targets. The majority of the learnerships supported were for nursing-related qualifications. Eight black economic empowerment (BEE) organisations were supported. Challenges for this period included the establishment of new ventures, and an understanding by potential providers of the accreditation processes. HWSETA would regard the Development of Accreditation Toolkit and the introduction of a cyclical approach as key ways to move forward. There was also slow progress on the implementation of the social services sector expanded works programme. There were some non-accredited institutions masquerading as approved providers, and there had been fraud by a few service providers, who had now been taken off the accreditation list. Staffing was also a challenge, with a high number of vacant posts, which the HWSETA was addressing. It was addressing scarce skills and presented graphs on the qualifications being provided to address those skills.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked the SETA how it thought it could deliver services better. Her concern was that the presentation did not provide a list of objectives and targets.

Ms Cronje responded that the SETA had not been informed that it should provide a list of objectives and targets to the Committee, but had instead had understood that it should be elaborating on the points made in the last presentation.

Mr Mzondeki expressed disappointment that the SETA had only given a bursary to only one deaf student. He felt that deaf people could easily be accommodated in the sector.

Mr Mogale asked about the Auditor General’s report, and wanted to find out if the submission of financial statements to that office had been done on time..

Ms Cronje said that the annual financial statements were submitted on time, but there was a delay on the Auditor General’s side on giving feedback.

Mr Mogale enquired how the SETA marketed itself. He cited an example of an office in Klerksdorp, which he thought was inaccessible.

Ms Cronje responded that the SETA was working on the issue of Klerksdorp, as there had been problems with some illegal activities in the area. Accessibility was a serious problem, and the SETA would be looking to actively launch more offices in rural areas.

Mr Mogale asked what the targets were for accreditation of service providers. He also asked why there was a lack of participation from stakeholders in the Northern Cape and the Free State provinces.

Ms Cronje noted that the HWSETA’s Research and Monitoring Unit would investigate the alleged lack of participation from stakeholders and the necessary steps would be taken to correct any problems.

The meeting was adjourned. .

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