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MINERALS AND ENERGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
10 September 2003
MINING QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Mr MT Goniwe
Documents handed out:
Mining Qualifications Authority Annual Reporting 2002-2003
The Mining Qualifications Authority briefed the Committee on its Annual Report 2002-2003. The briefing outlined its systems, its targets for sector skills, the status of skills plans, learnerships and accredited training providers. It also looked at the strategic projects it had implemented and grants it had disbursed. Finally a concise breakdown of its finances was given as well as chellenges it was facing.
The Committee pointed out the large reserve of funds that had not been spent on skills training and that administrative expenses had greatly increased but expenditure on grants for training had decreased.
Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA)
The delegation comprised of Ms M Hermanus, Chairperson of the MQA board, Dr M Mthwecu Chief Executive Officer, Mr Haoun Moolla Chief Financial Officer, Mr C Smit Chief Operating Officer, as well as Mr J Mkosi and Mr V Mabena.
Ms Hermanus presented a brief overview of the MQA whilst at the same time pointing out some of the key issues that the MQA had had to contend with for the year 2002-2003:
- There was a renewed approach by the MQA to improve its delivery.
- Various mechanisms were put in place so as to keep the MQA within the overall vision of the Mining Charter.
- The focus was to concentrate on the mining sector as a whole as opposed to a fragmented approach.
- The MQA faced many challenges as transformation in the industry was at a snail's pace.
- The issues of demographics, costs, gender representation were amongst the problems encountered. She did concede that the MQA was more race representative than gender representative. It was however an issue that was being addressed.
- It now had a more disciplined approach to the administration of its organisation. This was in keeping with its goal of improved delivery.
- Despite facing many challenges, it was nevertheless felt that the MQA had made substantive progress.
Mr Mthweku outlined the various facets of MQA operations. Amongst those mentioned were sector skills targets, learnerships registered, accredited training providers and strategic projects. Mr Mthweku also highlighted some of the challenges facing the MQA such as staff retention and capacity building and building a Historically Disadvantaged South Africans (HDSA) component amongst stakeholders. There was also concern that the amendments to the Skills Development Act would impact upon the ability of the MQA to deliver.
Mr Moolla presented an outline of the finances of the MQA. Although the administrative expenses of the MQA had increased from the previous financial period, revenue had increased by 16%. The top fifty companies in the industry paid 74% of all levies collected by the MQA. He felt that there needed to be greater participation by smaller companies. He noted that the MQA had a large reserve of funds that remained unspent.
Mr I Davidson (DA) was concerned that the large reserve of funds had not been spent on skills training. He pointed out that administrative expenses had greatly increased but expenditure on grants for training had decreased.
Ms Hermanus responded that the MQA did not train mineworkers. What the MQA does is that they show the employers how better to train their employees as well as encouraging employers to train their employees. This was the very reason why administration costs had increased. Training programmes had been set up to assist employers to train employees.
Mr Mabena pointed out that the reserves were high because only a few of the bigger mining companies were claiming from the skills grant fund. The MQA was continually trying to encourage smaller companies to claim from the fund to better train their workers. The MQA even went so far as to offer incentives to employers in order to encourage them to train their employees.
Mr N Ngcobo (ANC) asked what fields of study did the MQA focus on when granting bursaries.
Mr Mthweku noted that there were certain areas in which skilled persons were required such as jewellery design and the mechanical and electrical fields. There were criteria that needed to be fulfilled in order to qualify for bursaries. Students were required to pass their courses, be in financial need and agree to work for a specific period within the industry.
Prof I Mohamed (ANC) asked what was being done to train mineworkers to use sophisticated mining equipment. He wondered how it was monitored if training took place outside of the MQA.
Ms Hermanus noted that it was difficult to monitor training at the mines. Each mine had its own methods on how they preferred their workers to be trained. She agreed that it was a challenging task to monitor the training.
Mr Ngcobo asked if training in the fields of geophysics, geomorphology, and seismology had been encouraged by the MQA.
Mr Mthweku replied that many of the existing mining engineering degrees offered courses in the fields mentioned. Ms Hermanus added that there was often a spill-over effect from other fields into mining such as from science, chemical engineering, and mechanical engineering. She remarked that the industry needed to recognize this reality of the spill-over effect.
Mr E Lucas (IFP) was concerned about persons being trained and thereafter not be able to find jobs. He said that it created false expectations.
Ms Hermanus said that the MQA was aware that training should only take place where possible job opportunities would be available.
Mr D Olifant (ANC) asked what was being done to inform mineworkers about the programmes offered by the MQA. He also asked about Employment Equity, given the bad track record of the industry.
Ms Hermanus said that advocacy programmes were in place such as road shows. She made the point that it was a very costly exercise. Mr Mthweku added that Employment Equity programmes were in place.
Before adjourning the meeting, the Chair congratulated Ms E Ngaleka on her appointment as an ANC Whip.
The meeting was adjourned.
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