Human Resources Planning and Development Strategic Frameworks: Minister of Higher Education and Training and Department of Public Service and Administration briefing

Committee: Public Service and Administration, as well as Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

Chairperson: Ms J Moloi-Moropa (ANC)

Date of Meeting: 13 Sep 2011

Summary

The Minister of Higher Education and Training outlined the importance of the Human Resources Planning and Development Strategic Frameworks in growing young professionals, future academics and artisans to meet the demand in the country, and to curb unemployment and inequality. The State of the Nation Address had acknowledged the centrality of human resource development in achieving a winning democracy. The issue of quality was very central in our entire pipeline of education and training, from school right up to training in the workplace. Prior to the 2009 elections and the establishment of this administration, there was  the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills for South Africa. That had since been 'collapsed' into the strategy. The objectives were to meet the aims of reducing poverty, inequality and unemployment, creating and enabling environment for socio-economic growth and development, improving the Human Development Index and country ranking and reducing the Gini coefficient [of inequality] rate.

The Minister explained the governance structure of the Human Resource Development Council for South Africa. The Council included Cabinet Ministers, representatives from labour, business and the community. The Council was managed by the Department of Higher Education and Training and was chaired by the Deputy President. The Council met four times a year. There was also a provincial forum and in the ideal scenario each province would have its own human resource development forum. He said that the Council advised the Deputy President on human resource development policies and was a medium for constant dialogue. He highlighted that the Council was not an implementing body, but rather was a forum for reaching stakeholder consensus, identifying blockages and recommending solutions and conducting monitoring and evaluation. The Minister repeated that every public space should be a training space and that all levels and organs of Government should train their staff and create opportunities for young people.  He would also explore the idea of creating a framework for internships and learnerships and promote the idea of vacation work for students and learners.


A Member of the Congress of the People was keen better to understand how the strategy spoke to the National Planning Commission and would read the entire document available on the Department’s website. African National Congress Members asked about employment equity and noted that the public sector must take skills development very seriously, asked about the link between the Human Resource Development Council of South Africa and the Economic Development Department, noted that the New Growth Path made provision for skills development, and asked if this was not an issue for the Sector Education and Training Authorities. A Member of the Democratic Alliance asked why human resource units were understaffed when they were a priority.

The Department of Public Service and Administration's presentation linked very closely to what the Minister of Higher Education and Training had presented.  The frameworks spoke to the issue of equity. What emanated from the White Paper on Public Service Training and Education 1997 was premised on five rights: the right people; the right skills; the right placement; the right interventions; and the right outputs to realise the outcomes. The purpose of the Human Resource Planning and Development Frameworks  were to provide guidance and a holistic approach to human resource planning and development. Key achievements were the framework launched with toolkits and guidelines and reporting templates, the National Macro Organisation of the State - an outcomes-based approach adopted by Government, performance monitoring and evaluation, and the adaption and refocus of human resource planning and development reporting on the outputs based on delivery agreements.

The Chairperson asked for clarity on Outcome 12, said that the community participation aspect was important and critical for a developmental state, and asked how the reporting templates were designed. A Member of the Congress of the People asked if a score-card would be developed to monitor development and what some of the blockages to internships and learnerships were.  African National Congress Members  asked if any impact analysis was conducted on the training for managers, and wanted clarity on the recognition of prior learning -  it was a pity that the internship opportunity resulted in piecemeal work and the Department of Public Service and Administration should be encouraged to think outside the box; perhaps retraining people was necessary to keep them active in their jobs: sometimes people with disabilities were frustrated and then resigned.

The Minister said that perhaps guidelines for learnerships and internships should be developed to address the problem of interns just being used for mundane tasks and as sub-employment. The South African Qualifications Authority should take the lead on recognition of prior learning.


Minutes

Introduction
The Chairperson noted an apology from the Minister of Public Service and Administration and the Deputy Minister. In addition, she welcomed the Hon. Dr Blade Nzimade, Minister of Higher Education and Training and the representatives from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DoHET) and the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA).  As South Africa was a developmental state the issue of human resource development was very important. She mentioned a study trip that the Committee had made to Ghana and Indonesia to learn about recruitment, placement and training in those countries. On 21 September a briefing would be held on the consolidated monitoring and evaluation report on human resource development.  She then invited the Minister to make his presentation.

Minister of Higher Education and Training briefing
The Minister began by saying that this was a vital matter for the future development of the country. Human resource development was a key instrument for liberating South Africa from inequality, ignorance and poverty gaps. In the State of the Nation address the President had highlighted the importance of human resource development to strengthen and further our democracy. The Minister said that it was a very ambitious strategy. It was therefore very important that the human resource development strategy was aligned with the rest of Government policy.

The Minister explained that this strategy was not initiated by this administration but that the first draft document had been redrafted and revised to make it current.

The objectives of the strategy were to increase the responsiveness of education and training to the social and economic development agenda, to address the quality issues in the education and skills development pipeline, to address the skills shortage in priority areas, and establish institutional mechanisms for coordination, integration, coherence, accountability and reporting.


The Minister commented that the issue of quality was very central in our entire pipeline of education and training, from school right up to training in the workplace. Prior to the 2009 elections and the establishment of this administration, there was something called the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills for South Africa. That had since been 'collapsed' into the strategy. 

The objectives set out above were to meet the aims of reducing poverty, inequality and unemployment, creating and enabling environment for socio-economic growth and development, improving Human Development Index (HDI) and country ranking and reducing the Gini coefficient [of inequality] rate.

The Minister explained the governance structure of the Human Resource Development Council for South Africa (HRDCSA). The Council included Cabinet Ministers, representatives from labour, business and the community. The Council was managed by the Department of Higher Education and Training and was chaired by the Deputy President. The Council met four times a year. There was also a provincial forum and in the ideal scenario each province would have its own human resource development forum. He said that the Council advised the Deputy President on human resource development policies and was a medium for constant dialogue. He highlighted that the Council was not an implementing body, but rather was a forum for reaching stakeholder consensus, identifying blockages and recommending solutions and conducting monitoring and evaluation.

The commitments listed in the presentation mirrored the objectives. He highlighted the importance of young people having access to education and training opportunities, the importance of technological innovation and ensuring that the public sector had the capability to meet the priorities of a developmental state.

The public sector needed to train young people and offer internships; at present LLB [Bachelor of Laws] graduates needed to find opportunities in the private sector to complete their articles. The  Government should also offer young graduates the opportunity to complete their articles or traineeships so that they could be certified. Every public service space must be a training space.

The five-point work plan was to strengthen and support Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, the production of intermediate skills, the production of academics and partnerships in research and development, foundation learning, and worker education. Of the 30 000 registered charted accountants in the country, only 1 800 were black African. The country needed to produce more young professionals and remove the barriers to entry for young people. The average age of an academic in the country was 55 and it was important for young people to enter academia.  The Minister added that worker education was close to his heart and that quite simply worker education meant supporting worker-led education. This made for a better workforce and was ultimately better for the economy. He made special mention of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) bursary scheme that provided funding from the first year of study and provided a lap-top for the student; moreover, the scheme ensured that each student had a mentor. The Minister would like to explore the option of extending such a model to other professions.  He added that a priority would also be to create minimum standards for training artisans. He mentioned that the maritime industry had huge potential to create jobs and much of South Africa’s trade was by sea.

The Minister concluded by saying that the Council hoped to have a closer working relationship with the National Planning Commission.


(Please refer to the Human Resource Development Council for South Africa (HRDCSA). Presentation document for further details.)

Discussion
Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) thanked the Minister and said that the country was in need of such a strategy. He asked if, in terms of co-ordination, the deliverables would form part of the real monitoring. He mentioned that current Government practice was to hire candidates who had three or four years of experience and if this would change? He was also keen better to understand how the strategy spoke to the National Planning Commission. He added that he would read the entire document that was available on the Department’s website.

The Minister answered that a lot of what was contained in the human resources development strategy (HRDS) was reflected in the performance monitoring and evaluation agreement. The Department of Higher Education was responsible for the production of Outcome 5. He said that if the Department was able to crack the five priorities one would see results.

Mr A Nyambi (ANC) asked about employment equity; he said that the public sector must take skills development very seriously. He also asked about the link between the HRDCSA and the Economic Development Department (EDD). He added that the New Growth Path made provision for skills development, and asked if this was not an issue for the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).

The Minister answered that employment equity was at the heart of the issue. The HRDCSA worked very closely with the Department of Economic Development and the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). The contents of the skills accord was driven by the Department of Higher Education and Training and negotiated at NEDLAC. The SETAs were established in 2000 and over a decade approximately R23 billion had been spent but the results were poor, and this was for a number of reasons.  One possible reason was that 90% of the money was spent on short courses. A large proportion of money was also spent on private consultants. SETAs should be closely aligned to FET colleges and university colleges of technology.

Ms H Van Schalkwyk (DA) asked why human resource units were understaffed when they were a priority.

The Minister replied that he was not sure he had the answer; perhaps the reason was that the country had not elevated skills development. All major infrastructure was to be accompanied by training.

Ms M Mohale (ANC) asked where skills development for the disabled fitted in. She said that many policies had been produced but yet today people with disabilities there were not employed. It seemed that disability was included as an afterthought.

The Minister replied that skills development for the disabled was very firmly incorporated. He made reference to National Skills Development 3, which placed money aside for bursaries for students with disabilities.

He also added that one idea to explore was vacation jobs that would allow young people to gain exposure.

Ms J Maluleke (ANC) asked if officials at municipalities had the relevant skills.

The Minister answered that municipalities must train for themselves, for example, Durban where eThekwini
municipality had been training their own women fire fighters.

The Chairperson asked if the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (PALAMA) would be retained.

The Minister replied that what South Africa needed was a coordinated response to the college system. It should be possible for a student to transfer from one college to another and transfer credits.

Ms Sindiswa Nhlumayo, Head of Secretariat: Human Resource Development Council, added that in relation to monitoring and evaluation there was a 2010-2030 strategy to identify key players to enable the delivery of the strategy. The Council would monitor both on an annual basis and a five year basis the progress being made.  At present the Council was working on a baseline study to measure progress.


Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA). Human Resources Planning and Development Strategic Frameworks. Presentation
Mr Dick Bvuma, Acting Deputy Director-General: Human Resources and Planning, DPSA, said that his presentation linked very closely to what the Minister of Higher Education and Training had presented.  The frameworks spoke to the issue of equity. What emanated from the White Paper on Public Service Training and Education 1997 was premised on five rights:

1. The right people
2. The right skills
3. The right placement
4. The right interventions
5. The right outputs to realise the outcomes

These five elements were crucial to the success of the plan.

The purpose of the Human Resource Planning and Development (HRP & D) Frameworks (see slide 5)  were to provide guidance and a holistic approach to human resource (HR) planning and development and to facilitate the development and implementation of strategies, tools, and interventions to achieve departmental strategic objectives and realise the Government’s Programme of Action.

Some of the key achievements he noted were the framework launched with toolkits and guidelines and reporting templates, the National Macro Organisation of the State (NMOS), an outcomes-based approach adopted by Government, performance monitoring and evaluation, and the adaption and refocus of HR Planning and Development reporting on the outputs based on delivery agreements.

The next steps would include the alignment of HRP & D framework implementation to accommodate new or revised strategic plans in support of the delivery agreement, refocus of HR planning and development reporting on outputs based on the delivery agreements, reporting cycles of HRP & D aligned to the delivery agreement, and the review and issuing of determinations on internships and “learnerships” respectively.

The implementation of the HRP & D frameworks for the public service required a collaborative, shared and supportive engagement by all role players on how a “an efficient and development-orientated public service” was to be achieved.

(Please see presentation document for full details.)

Discussion

The Chairperson asked for clarity on the outcome 12 that was mentioned in the presentation, as the second part had been left out.

Mr Johannes Rantete, Chief Director: Strategic Management, Office of the DG, DPSA, said that the first part of outcome 12 fell within the scope of the DPSA, and that the second part was being addressed by the Department of Arts and Culture.

The Chairperson said that the aspect that related to community participation was important and critical for a developmental state, and that this should form part of the discussion.

The Chairperson asked how the reporting templates were designed?
 
Mr Bvuma said that the presentation was to provide an overview and the reporting templates were in packs that would be provided to the Committee.

Mr Ramatlakane asked what it would take to leap forward? Will a score-card be developed to monitor development? What were some of the blockages to internships and learnerships?

Mr Vuma answered that, based on research conducted in 2006 and subsequent feedback, a determination had been issued on internships. Due to high rates of unemployment interns moved from one internship to the next.  This was a problem and the only solution was for people to be absorbed into the job market. Perhaps an initiative was to have a percentage of interns employed after a period of time. He added that it was important for interns to have a mentor as sometimes interns got used to just making the tea and making photocopies. It was important for interns to get regular feedback and good exposure. Another aspect that needed to be reviewed was the possibility of longer internships for those who had a disability, depending on the severity of their disability. The DPSA was reviewing the blockages and trying to remove them.

Ms Mohale asked if any impact analysis was conducted on the training for managers, and wanted clarity on the recognition of prior learning.

Mr Bvuma responded that impact assessments were done and that, given our history, the recognition of prior learning became central. For the focus on public service there needed to be a framework in the form of a policy that would unpack the assessment. He gave the example of an artisan who wanted to move into administration – it had to be asked what the checklist would be for that person to make the move. The HRDCSA looked beyond just the public service; it was important to recognize the skills people had obtained over the years of work.

Ms Maluleke stated that it was a pity that the internship opportunity resulted in piecemeal work.

Ms Mohale encourage the DPSA to think outside the box and that perhaps retraining people was necessary to keep them active in their jobs; she added that sometimes people with disabilities were frustrated in their posts and then resigned. She encouraged the DPSA to retrain people.

The Minister clarified that when he said that the municipalities must train for themselves he meant that in many municipalities there was no serious training.  It was important both for staff to be trained internally and for young people to have opportunities for development. He also mentioned that perhaps guidelines for learnerships and internships should be developed, and perhaps this would address the problem of interns just being used for mundane tasks and as sub-employment. He felt that the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should take the lead on recognition of prior learning.  The trade unions felt that previous discussions had been too academic and this issue was being discussed since 1994, and it was time that some clarity should be reached and a plan implemented into the mainstream. He added that approximately 20 000 artisans worked as artisan assistants because they were not certified and this was central to skills development.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister and the departmental representatives and hoped that in the next year they would report on the progress made.

The meeting was adjourned.