CATHSSETA on training programmes in Tourism Sector; Committee Report on 2020/21 Quarter 1 performance


20 October 2020
Chairperson: Mr S Mahumapelo (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sector Education Training Authority (CATHSSETA) presented a background paper to the Committee with an overview of its skills development and training programmes in the tourism and travel services sector. The discussion was on the mandate of developing a credible Sector Skills Plan (SSP) and ensuring that areas outside of the major metros were not left behind. The travel and tourism sector were highlighted as being the major sectors, receiving approximately 85% of all allocation and expenditure.

Through research-based industry feedback, investigations suggested that most learners from Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions were not work ready and did not meet the required skills set. However, the paper highlighted the number of programs initiated by the CATHSSETA which were focused on rural villages, townships and small dorpies

Concerns from Committee Members were around the impacts and the effectiveness of the trainings in reaching the rural villages, townships and dorpies as the issue stem from students in these areas. There was an emphasis on the important role that should be played by CATHSSETA in putting in place programs which would encourage rural youth to consider tourism as a career path rather than an easier choice to cope with school work and for tourism to have meaningful impact in the rural areas in order to address historical injustices suffered by black South Africans.

Meeting report

Mr Moses Motha, CATHSSETA board member: organiSed labour, introduced CATHSSETA.  He explained that the role of CATHSSETA was to equip young people with the skills that they need in the tourism sector as well as other subsectors. The current COVID-19 pandemic has had an effect on the organization’s income streams as has been seen in other sectors but there is optimism that there will be a turn around. The work of CATHSSETA also involves ensuring that people living in the rural areas are not left behind, however, the lack of resources often limits the ability to reach a wider demography that needs to be serviced.

He implored the Committee to support the organization in getting more funding to enable them carry out their mandate.

CATHSSETA Presentation

Ms Lebogang Mpye, Acting CEO: CATHSSETA, gave a general outlook on tourism, the drivers of change in the tourism sector and a detailed analysis of the mandate of CATHSSETA in the developing of sector skills in sub-sectors. These included the arts, culture and heritage, conservation, gaming and lotteries, hospitality, sport, recreation and fitness, travel and tourism.

There are a number of mandatory and discretionary grants that enable CATHSSETA to deliver on its mandate and this involves leveraging on various partnerships with different stakeholders. The bulk of the budget, 85%, is allocated to be spent for the travel and tourism sector.

Looking at learning and skills transfer to youth in the tourism industry, research-based industry feedback suggests that learners from TVET colleges in hospitality, were not work ready. In response, CATHSSETA developed and is funding the role-out of an industry fit for purpose Work Readiness Programme (WRP). The six weeks, WRP programme covers areas like: Induction, Workplace Basics, Workplace Skills, People Skills, Customer Service, Finding your first job, Self development, Business Principles and Business acumen (simulation)

In terms of improving access for rural villages, townships and small dorpies, one of the objectives of the White Paper on Post School Education is Education and Social Justice.  In this objective the WP-PSET makes the following observation: “people born and living in rural areas have fewer opportunities than urban residents, and those in townships and informal settlements do not fare as well as their suburban counterparts”. The WP-PSET notes that such historical disadvantages need to be redressed if we are to move towards a more just and stable society.  In addressing this, CATHSSETA, through its Discretionary Grants Policy, gives preference to applications from institutions intending to skill rural and township youth for rural and township development. CATHSSETA has also put R20 million towards upgrading the infrastructure for rural based TVET colleges to enable the skilling of the rural youth on CATHSSETA aligned programmes.

Regarding financial limitations in addressing the skills development demand in sub-sectors, there are 39 824 entities registered with CATHSSETA of which 37 928 (95%) are small entities, majority of which are exempted from contributing levies. This impacts on the funds available to implement the SETA mandate. Example: in the 2019/2020 financial year, the industry requested over 7 billion (R7 668 096 776) to skill 228 384 beneficiaries (i.e. 50 432 workers and 177 952 unemployed youth). CATHSSETA was only able to fund 4 402 (both workers and unemployed youth) at a meagre amount just over 196 million (196 335 470 000).

The presentation the n looked at partnerships with the national Department of Tourism and specific examples of programmes that CATHSSETA had been rolling out in the past years.


Mr P Moteka (EFF) said that he had noted a mistake in the presentation where it had been indicated that the organization offered tourist guide and tourism guide as separate courses and that this was a mistake that needed to be corrected as it was a repetition.

He highlighted that South Africa’s economy was one sided and racially bias because of the historic matters. He asked on the actions being taken by the organization to make sure that people in the villages and township were covered and wanted to know the specific and special programs that were in place to attract learners from the villages. These learners typically do not have knowledge on tourism as a career and those enrolled for tourism are mostly slow learners who could not take on tough subjects. This fact alone should prompt CATHSSETA to do workshops as custodians to impart the importance of tourism as a career.

He said that the sector was untransformed, and most businesses are occupied by white people and there was need to take it to the villages.

Mr H Gumbi (DA) thanked the presentation and noted the important work that CATHSSETA was doing. He said that tourism plays an important role in providing jobs and therefore it is important in the stability of the economy.

He asked on the proportion of the budgets across the sub-sectors, as the presentation indicated the top ten occupations and sectoral priority and asked how this was decided upon.

He asked on the scale used to measure the impacts of the training programmes provided and if a full comprehensive impact assessment had been done to know if there was any notable impact in the sector.

He inquired on the geographical spread of CATHSSETA registered entities as it was mentioned that there was a push to have some of these entities in areas which did not have the strongest infrastructure while at the same time have the entities in areas which have strong infrastructure that again should not be neglected but supported.

He agreed that the pandemic had affected the sector and asked on how this has changed medium to long-term planning. There are a number of factors to be considered by CATHSSETA such as destination marketing and how a change in destination marketing was an important message in the sector. He advised the organization to think about the lessons which could be learnt from the pandemic. 

Ms M Gomba (ANC) stressed on the fact that the Committee would like to see CATHSSETA give a lot of attention to the villages and dorpies as this has the potential to change the lives of the people in the villages.

Mr M De Freitas (DA) said that there were lesser opportunities in rural areas than in urban areas and asked the reasons for this and what CATHSSETA was doing to change this fact. The reason there was nothing going on in the villages is because nothing is being done and therefore the organisation needs to empower young people in rural areas.

He asked for an explanation as to why learners leaving TVET institutions are not qualified as it was indicated in the presentation that the skills demand could not be met. This has a negative impact on skills demand as it will continue being great. He inquired on the actions being taken to restructure or broaden skills impartment with partnerships as there is a plethora of institutions and organizations that exist. He added that he would like to see in the future partnership programs which would help to meet the dire skill need.

Mr De Freitas mentioned that he had been following a program that CATHSSETA had been running for the past year and not even one person had been able to be registered. The procedure and the correct forms had been submitted; however, the system was cumbersome and did not operate correctly. He asked why it was that a system which evidently did not work was implemented a year ago and why a company that did not fulfil the IT requirement was appointed. He wanted to understand the situation before the COVID-19 pandemic and why the application did not work. Further, he questioned why the process had not been automated and the use of papers was still in place, noting that the system was archaic and horrendous.

Mr K Sithole (IFP) questioned the issue of vacancies in CATHSSETA such as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Executive Manager for Cooperatives and Executive Manager for Learning Programs, and timelines for when these positions would be filled.

On the issue of training, he noted that CATHSSETA reported that 1762 and 110 youths had been trained and asked what percentage of these numbers represented individuals from rural areas or townships.

He noted that the presenter had highlighted that the youth were being supported in learning foreign languages however, all he heard was about Mandarin and asked about other available languages.

The Chairperson welcomed Ms Mpushe back and said that the Committee was happy she was present, despite having gone through a rough time at home.

Ms P Mpushe (ANC) thanked the Chairperson and CATHSSETA for the very informative presentation. Her concerns had already been raised such as the geographical spread of the work and the beneficiation in terms of the nine provinces. She wanted to understand who benefits in the access of information, what the focus foreign languages were and why Chinese seemed to be preferred.

Ms L Makhubela-Mashele (ANC) asked whether the R1 billion spent on training was on tourism alone or spread across other sectors that CATHSSETA supports. The Department of Tourism had indicated to the Committee previously that they were facing challenges not necessarily with the quality of the curriculum, the training and the certification of tourist guides but with various service providers complaining that they were not satisfied with the quality of learners. Yet, CATHSSETA had a different success story with regards to the curriculum, she wanted this clarified and called upon any member of the Department, if present, to clarify the matter.

She asked on the impact of CATHSETTA in townships and rural areas as tourism is triangulated in Durban, Cape Town and Gauteng. There is need for the geographical spread in the rural areas and the organization needs to follow through with budgeting and training.

The Chairperson noted the need to reconsider the education policy and have tourism considered within the school system at the high school level to ensure learners focus on it from an early stage and not when they are frustrated and are looking for something to hold on to.

He suggested that the Department should approach the banking sector because one of the biggest problems facing black Africans is access to capital. Skills and capital are the key challenges in tourism and sometimes people have skills but do not have capital.

He proposed that the Department approach all policies addressing the problems of ownership and control as this is important in order to address the historical injustices. Gender parity is also an important issue to look at when looking at ownership, control and management of the tourism sector.

Transformation needs to reflect in the villages, townships and the small towns. The programs need to respond to the underlying issues to ensure that the tourism sector did not go back to the status quo pre-COVID. If radical transformation happened in the rural areas, it would ease the rural-urban migration that often puts pressure on resources.

Mr Motha mentioned that CATHSSETA had participated in the National Careers Expo in the North West part of the country in 2019 where about 90% of the attendees were learners from rural areas. He added that the organisations work is included in TVET institutions that are generally in rural areas.

Ms Mpye added that the organisation had made sure in their evaluation criteria that one of the criteria was scoring high on applications that came from rural areas so that the person applying would leverage more points. This was in line with the Grant Regulation which indicated that there was a need in the seven transformation imperatives and the organisation should focus about 85% of its work on rural areas.

The National Tourism Career Expo (NTCE) program is a huge program where CATHSSETA partners with National Department of Tourism (NDT) and the North West Department and in the previous three years, the province had been serviced. The organisation had advertised for provinces to apply to have CATHSSETA as an implementing partner in the career expos for a period of three years. The program would be in collaboration with the Ministry of Basic Education and the Ministry of Transport who would release and transport the learners to the expos. CATHSSETA is also leveraging on other expos and not just those they organise.

She added that CATHSSETA also had key performance indicators on career expos. In the previous financial year, there were six career expos that they had been done in partnership with institutions. During weekends, the focus was on going to churches to provide information that would ensure learners qualify to their subsections. There was also a heritage expo with qualified personnel from different fields such as TV personalities and chefs who got to interact with learners to show them the transition of their education into the job space.

In response to the question on skills of learners from TVET institutions, CATHSSETA came in with the work readiness program in order to assist TVET institutions.

With budget allocations, Ms Mpye said that the organization received 1% from the different subsectors. The leading contributing subsector is hospitality and tourism followed by sports and conservation. Arts and culture do not contribute significantly as many in the field work as freelancers and are not registered and therefore the proportion spent depends on the income from the subsector. There will be an annual basis research through the sector skills on which sectors employed the most people, the number of registered employers and how much each sub-sector was contributing.

The impact of the training provided by CATHSSETA serves as a key performance indicator as learners who received training were traced to understand their progress, whether they had been employed or not and how the skills from the program had aided them in getting jobs or promotions.

Touching on the geographical spread, she mentioned that most of the funds come from hospitality and tourism and as such most of the funds went to hospitality, tourism and sports. These funds were then distributed also within the nine provinces in order to align with the areas with the most employers which are mostly metros.

Some of the establishments in rural areas, especially in hospitality, did not meet the standards or level that the five-star or four-star hotel expects of the learners once they are trained. While on the other hand, there are instances where there were simply no establishments in the rural areas leading to learners being placed in establishments in metro spaces. CATHSSETA partnered with TVET institutions to mitigate this issue by refurbishing and building five-star kitchens in the TVET institutions to ensure the learners were exposed and ready for the job market.

She reiterated that the organization had partnered with other institutions, universities to showcase offered programs during career expos and open days. Student information is also collected, and a database created to enable employers to have access to this information when they are looking for employees.

The issue of unpreparedness of TVET learners for the work environment is a serious one that is being dealt with. For example, the TVET curriculum only provides two weeks of work exposure to students and CATHSETTA offers about 6-12 months exposure, despite the curriculum providing for two weeks. There are also talks with employers about taking on learners to ensure they were being rotated in all sectors.

CATHSSETA applies to different entities for funding when advertised in order to train as many learners as possible and recently an offer letter from one of the entities had been received and a follow-up had been planned but due to the COVID-19 pandemic the issue had not really moved.

The reason why the Chinese language was a popular was as a result of the partnership from the Ministry of Tourism and China. However, other partnerships are being pursued such as those from Malaysia.

The complicated application process is mainly because the contract with the previous provider had expired and a new service provider ha to be used. The intention was for the system to be fully online but there were operational difficulties that are expected as the system had started in March 2020, however, training programs are being conducted in the provinces on the new systems. An added challenge was that there was a bit of resistance from some of the employers, training providers and stakeholders, as people were being resistant to change. There had previously not been any complaints with the previous system and the current service providers had been selected through a fair process.

CATHSSETA is aligning itself to the new policies hence the current unoccupied vacancies. The new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) would be starting in December 2020 and an advertisement for the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has been put out as all previous contracts had terminated in March 2020. This position had not been filled and had to be re-advertised.

Ms Mpye requested to be given time before she could relay information on the number of trained individuals from rural areas to the Committee as the information was not at her disposal at the time of the meeting.

With the mentioned R1 billion spent on training, she reiterated that about 80% goes back to tourism and hospitality as they are the biggest income earners. A further breakdown would be provided in the report to be sent to the Committee.

There are challenges being experienced with the tourist guide curriculum because tourist guides needed to first register with their provincial registrars, a process which needs to be well understood and as such CATHSSETA needs to work on their communication and awareness campaigns which will make things clear. There were some individuals who directly contacted the organization to be registered and they had to be sent back to their provincial registrar hence the complaints.

She mentioned that track and trace research would be provided in order to ascertain the impact of the trainings to the Committee. 

The Chairperson thanked CATHSSETA for their presentation and noted that they would be interacting at least once a year on the issues of inequality, poverty, unemployment and how the organization was responding to these challenges as they affected people in villages, townships, informal settlements and dorpies.

The rural wealth is in the hands of white minority because of the history of South Africa, hence the need to focus on the villages to change this set up and ensure that the wealth also benefits black South Africans. He requested that in the next interaction CATHSSETA specifies the villages where they had implemented programs and look at the potential found townships.

Committee Minutes

The Committee considered and adopted the minutes of its previous meeting.

Meeting adjourned.

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