Video (Part 1)
Video (Part 2)
The Committee met virtually with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the Agricultural and Health and Welfare Sector Education And Training Authorities (SETAs) to receive briefings on the progress of the migration of the agricultural and nursing colleges, while both SETAs focused on their skills development programmes in their respective fields. The Department provided a brief background on the migration process for both agriculture and nursing colleges -- the legislative framework, its responsibilities, implementation plan and progress to date.
Both SETAs touched on a variety of issues pertaining to their programmes on skills development in their sectors, and Members welcomed their interventions and programmes. However, they had hoped to hear more about the Omar Report by the Agricultural SETA (AGRISETA), particularly the implementation of its recommendations. The report dated back to 2012, and had made findings and recommendations for the SETA to open criminal charges against certain managers at the time. The AGRISETA said all the recommendations had been implemented by the previous Council, and that a charge had also been laid with the Hawks.
Members raised some concerns around the issue of training by Zegna with the Health and Welfare SETA (HWSETA). Allegations were made that the service provider had claimed money from the HWSETA for “ghost trainees”. One of the Members had raised this matter with the CEO of the HWSETA, who had promised to investigate the claims and allegations further. It had confirmed that Zegna was accredited, and it was also approved to offer online training. Investigation into this matter would continue, and once completed a report would be provided to both the Department and the Committee.
Members asked questions about the deadline of the migration process; the outcome of the feasibility study; the budgetary implications for the migration; the funding strategy and infrastructure development needs; the extent to which the Department’s budget had been increased as a result of the migration; how the migration process had been impacted in terms of legislation and amendments; lessons learnt by the Department in the process of migration; whether the courses offered by the colleges were accredited; progress on cases related to corruption and the status quo and consequence management for those who defaulted on the credibility of the institutions; the relationship between the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and if there were any other working relations with other departments that were related to issues of agriculture; the function shift of agricultural colleges to the Department, and engagements with Treasury to secure funding for them.
The Committee would receive a full account of the Omar Report and additional information on some outstanding matters, such as a report on the qualifications of the executives and board members of the SETAs, a roadmap on the migration process, and details on the Zegna matter.
Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET): Progress in the migration of agricultural and nursing colleges
Dr Marcia Socikwa, Deputy Director-General (DDG): University Education, DHET, reported on progress in the migration of the agriculture and nursing colleges. The presentation covered the legislative framework; the Department’s responsibilities; the phased approach; the implementation plan and progress made so far.
The 2021 medium term budget policy statement, tabled on 11 November 2021, signalled that the colleges of agriculture would be shifted to national government. It was planned that they would be declared as Colleges of Higher Education with effect from 1 April 2022. In January 2022, after meeting with National Treasury and the Departure of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), it was decided to postpone the declaration to 1 April 2023 for the following reasons:
To allow opportunities for further consultation with provincial departments and Members of Executive Councils (MECs);
Ensure compliance with the Department of Public Service and Administration's (DPSA's) transfer of functions guidelines during the transition period;
Finalise provincial budgets to be transferred to DALRRD -- and DALRRD had started the process of reconstituting the six task teams towards the declaration date of 1 April 2023.
As for the nursing colleges, in 2011 the Council on Higher Education (CHE) had advised the Minister of Higher Education and Training that to deal with the challenges in the quality of qualifications offered by public colleges under provincial governance, they should be brought into a national competence under the DHET. Towards the end of 2014, the DHET and the National Department of Health (NDoH) established the Joint Health Sciences Education Committee (JHSEC) to deal with all issues related to health sciences education in the country, including the issue of nursing colleges. In 2015 and 2016, the two departments worked on a process through the JHSEC to enable the function shift of nursing colleges to a national competence. A feasibility study was undertaken, and different options were identified. A due diligence exercise on all the public nursing colleges was undertaken and finalised in June 2018. The status of nursing colleges was tabled at the JHSEC committee meeting held in August 2018, and it was agreed that a process would be put in place to enable the colleges to be declared as Higher Education Colleges under the Higher Education Act.
Agricultural Sector Education and Training Authority (AGRISETA)
Ms Sharon Sepeng, Chairperson, AgriSETA Board, took Members through the presentation. The presentation focused on the overview of the SETA; programmes and their implementation; financial positions and performance; continuous improvement strategies; flagship programmes; supporting land reform and college bursary programmes.
AgriSETA had accredited all 11 agricultural colleges to offer learnership programmes. The management of the SETA participated in strategic sessions of the Association of Principals of Agricultural colleges (APAC) to share sectoral information and ideas and identify areas of collaboration. AgriSETA representatives were placed at the colleges and AgriSETA placed students at the colleges to assist with SETA-related matters.
The unaudited organisational performance was currently projected at 93%.
Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA)
Ms Elaine Brass, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), HWSETA, commenced with its labour market profile, and said that currently, professionals and technicians and associate professionals comprised 59% of total employment in both the public service and the private sector. It was important to note that nurses represented most workers in the sector and that the demand for nurses remained high. The increased demand for nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic had made this problem worse. Compared to private health, the public service had higher percentages of health workers in the provinces with large rural, poor populations depending on public health services, such as the Eastern Cape, North West and Limpopo.
More than two-thirds of the health and social development sector employees were African. In the public service, 80% of the workforce was African, compared to 62% in the private sector. Whites formed around 6% of the public service workforce, compared to 19% in the private sector.
More than half (30.4 million) of South Africans were poor in 2015, with the poverty headcount increasing to 55.5%. For the fourth quarter of 2020, the unemployment rate (strict definition) was recorded at 32.5%, the highest since the start of the Labour Force Surveys in 2008 (StatsSA 2020), showing the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Disease burden" was the impact of a health problem as measured by financial cost, mortality, morbidity, or other indicators. The success of the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme would depend on the skills of health workers in general, who were trained to offer all levels of care, from primary health care to specialised secondary care and highly specialised tertiary levels of care.
In terms of occupational shortages, the skills gap referred to skills deficiencies in employees, or a lack of specific competencies by employees to undertake job tasks successfully to required industry standards. Top-up skills also referred to skills gaps. Occupational shortages occurred when the demand for workers in specific occupations exceeded the supply of workers who were qualified, available, and willing to work.
The employers that submitted workplace skills plans (WSPs) to the HWSETA and the Public Sector Education and Training Authority (PSETA) in 2021 had reported a total of 7 470 hard-to-fill vacancies. These vacancies were distributed over 220 occupations. Just over half (52%) of these vacancies were for professionals, and just over a third (37%) for technicians and associate professionals. Of the occupations reported as hard to fill, 56% were occupations at high skills level [National Qualifications Framework (NQF) 7-10]. The public sector had the predominant demand (79%) at the high skills level, compared to the private sector at 48%. The private sector had predominant demand (47%) for occupations with intermediate skills above the overall sector distribution at 38%.
71% of the occupations reported as hard to fill had their main reason for the shortage as ‘scarcity of people with the required qualifications.’ Just over a third (34%) of occupations reported as hard to fill were predominantly classified in the Organising Framework for Occupations (OFO) as minor groups of nursing professions, at 34%, followed by Specialist Medical Practitioners at 9%. In essence, the scarcity of people with required qualifications belonged, in the main, to nursing professionals and specialist medical practitioners. Given that the occupations in this group were at high skills levels, interventions would focus either on the employed for upskilling, or on the unemployed, ensuring a pipeline approach, with continuity from entry/intermediate to high skills level over an extended period.
Ms Brass acknowledged that sector distribution was unequal by design. The state priority occupation list (SPOL) had always been reflecting the distribution of standard industrial classification (SIC) codes as assigned by the DHET to the re-establishment of the SETA landscape (2020 – 2030). Making the SPOL distribution equal across all sector classifications would be redefining the SIC codes as assigned by the DHET, thus in effect disadvantaging SIC codes that the HWSETA was mandated to account for in the main.
As for youth unemployment and the contribution by the SETA, they had ten interventions focusing on the youth. These were a hybrid of workplace-based programmes, academic programmes, and short-learning programmes.
Ms D Sibiya (ANC) asked about career guidance and how often the SETAs convened career guidance campaigns. How much were the SETAs spending annually in the administration of internal bursaries, and how many people were employed to perform this function? How did SETAs advertise their bursary opportunities? What were the criteria used by the SETAs to place social workers and social auxiliary workers at schools? What was the provincial distribution of placement of social workers and social auxiliary workers?
Dr W Boshoff (FF Plus) was impressed with the HWSETA, and its success in training under difficult circumstances was important. On the agricultural colleges, what was the Department’s perspective on college autonomy? Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges seemed to function more like schools under the control of the Department, while universities seemed to be functioning with complete autonomy from the Department.
Where the HWSETA had referred to the disruption of the nursing training in the presentation, this was something one often saw -- that one changes a working system, it disrupts the entire system, and the students end up losing out.
Ms J Mananiso (ANC) said she was pleased with how the AGRISETA presented its data on demographics. It made it simple to see how well the SETA was doing on matters of transformation.
On slide 12 of the DHET’s presentation, the demographic breakdown should be further broken down into provinces. She sought clarity about whether slides 12 and 14 were related, because on the latter slide, there was a detailed account of the provinces' beneficiaries, but the demographics for people living with disabilities were not included.
She suggested that the Department write to the Committee in detail about the programme of action regarding the phases. Members were interested to track if it had been moving as per the plan, and about the issues encountered during the implementation phase. Was the migration process concluded? If not, what was the status of the function shift of both the agriculture and nursing colleges?
She asked the Department about the deadline for the migration process; the outcome of the feasibility study; the budgetary implications for the migration; the funding strategy and infrastructure development needs; the extent to which the Department’s budget had increased as a result of the migration; how the migration process was impacted in terms of legislation and amendments; lessons learnt by the Department in the process of migration; whether the courses offered by the colleges were accredited; cases related to corruption and the status quo, as well as consequence management for those who defaulted on the credibility of the institutions; the relationship between the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and if there were any other working relations with other departments that related to issues of agriculture; the function shift of agriculture colleges to the Department; and engagement with Treasury to secure funding for agricultural colleges.
Regarding the TVET colleges, was there any impact regarding the shift of other responsibilities; had the Department conducted asset verification at all the colleges that would be affected by the migration and whether signed protocols were in place to guide the function shift? This had to be shared with the Committee.
She asked AGRISETA about the outreach programme, and indicated that her constituency benefited from them. However, during the outreach programmes, schools must be considered as well. On non-compliance with the training required standards by the training providers whose accreditation had been identified as a risk, what was AGRISETA's mitigation plan? On the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) policy, was the SETA doing the work under the policy, and what was being done to address the e-learning challenges? What had been the impact of Covid-19 on the entities that had presented today?
She also asked about the challenges of the AGRISETA and the qualifications of the senior management and the board.
As for the HWSETA, was the budget adequate for it to achieve its mandate, and how would the limited budget impact its performance? She also wanted to know about consequence management in the SETA, commenting on the slow rate of prosecution of skills development providers who defrauded learners due to lack of legislative tools, and saying the SETA should forward a report on anything that had to do with fraud in the SETA. She asked if there was a plan for the limited enrolment of students and bursaries; how the low number of students who passed maths and science impacted enrolment in health-related programmes, and if there was any study that could have been done in relation to that. The HWSETA should consider intensifying its learner programmes – the Committee had previously requested the skills development unit to have one career guidance document that would include all opportunities at the various SETAs. This matter must be fast-tracked to ensure that students had all this information in one document. Lastly, she asked the HWSETA whether it also had a policy to address the e-learning challenges.
Ms D Mahlatsi (ANC) stressed that the roadmap of the migration must be inclusive of all the issues that it impacted, and the status of the migration. She asked the AGRISETA about what it would take to increase the number of student enrolments beyond the financial capacity; the outcomes of placement of students by the SETA, and if it monitored the placement of students and their progress in those programmes; the monitoring system used to avoid scams in the placement of students; the audit outcome of the college, and if it was addressing the recurring unqualified audit opinion which it had received for the past ten years; and how it determined the numbers of enrolments, because they varied in all the provinces, with all inland provinces having low numbers except Limpopo, yet Free State, Northern Cape and North West were agricultural provinces.
Addressing HWSETA, she said the SETA referred to supporting government departments with social workers in schools, and asked how many had been placed, the duration of the placement and the costs? Was there a monitoring system to ensure that these placements were done quickly? There was a need for this programme to be enhanced to deal with issues of bullying and gender-based violence (GBV).
She asked about the provincial contributions to skills development interventions, and if there was a deliberate and intentional programme focused on gender transformation.
The Chairperson expressed concern about the time it took to finalise the migration, suggesting that perhaps the Department could help Members understand if the migration process could have been done in a shorter period. If bottlenecks were experienced, the intervention of the Committee could perhaps assist. She supported the request for a dated roadmap of the migration – the details of timeframes. The Committee wanted to get to day-zero for this migration.
She expressed concerns regarding the AGRISETA on the implementation of the Omar Report and why certain recommendations were not implemented, particularly on laying criminal charges against Ms Moloto and Kediemetse HR Solutions, and how the mutual agreement on the separation packages was reached; how the SETA was putting in place systems to ensure that what happened in this matter was preventing it from recurring at the SETA; and if the recommendation about the review of termination policies and procedures for all employees who resigned after committing acts of misconduct and the payment of their salaries and benefits under such circumstances had been implemented.
Ms C King (DA), through the chat platform, asked about the intake of nurses at universities and TVET colleges; if the HWSETA had conducted research on reasons for the decline in the uptake of nurses and professional healthcare workers leaving South Africa for other countries; if the Committee could be furnished with the report on unaccredited courses in the agriculture and nursing sectors; and if the SETAs had experienced any challenges regarding issues related to certification.
Mr T Letsie (ANC) said that generally, there was a perception that people who were employed in the SETAs often defrauded the institutions, and that they were protected. He was not pleased that the chairperson of the board had not touched on the Omar Report. It was an important part to commence with, because the Committee had a responsibility to end the narrative that they were protecting wrongdoing in the SETAs. He wanted to know from AGRISETA why there was little detail on the Omar Report, and had resolved to finalise the recommendations of this report differently than stipulated.
Addressing the HWSETA, he said that six weeks ago he had been approached by people in the public who had made allegations against one of the service providers of the SETA. It appeared that Zegna, as an appointed service provider, would have claimed money from the SETA claiming that it was training learners -- but the learners were never trained. They had arrived at this conclusion when the President announced the social relief grant of R350 for unemployed persons. When the persons applied for the grant, they were rejected because they were told that they were employed, though they were not. The aggrieved persons had been following up on this matter since last year, but to no avail. They had elevated the matter to the Members. This had impacted a few learners, but the programme was for 1 000 young people. Now, what if the company had been claiming money from the SETA fraudulently? This must be investigated. The Committee had the responsibility to protect public funds. He had contacted Ms Brass, who had promised to investigate this matter. He asked for an update on that investigation.
The Omar Report stemmed from the Public Protector’s office. It claimed that these SETAs had not been as watertight as the Committee thought they were. The SETAs may be fulfilling their mandates, but service providers may be submitting inaccurate reports to them. One may be asking why trained learners were not being absorbed in the labour market, but meanwhile, the service providers were not even providing training to the unemployed youth. There was a need to tighten up monitoring and implement different monitoring tools to protect the beneficiaries and the state resources against people who wanted to defraud the SETAs. It was possible that the numbers presented today may not be a true reflection of the work that had been done. They may not be a true reflection of those who had been trained. Thus, he suggested the Department develop a monitoring system that could detect when learners were not being taught across the country. The AG’s report on the SETA said everything was fine, but the Committee may have found out that those learners were not trained. This meant that their systems were lacking somewhere. Could Members leave here assured that these matters would be attended to and resolved? All the issues around corruption and fraud were matters of urgency.
Department of Higher Education and Training
Dr Socikwa agreed that a roadmap with timelines would be provided to the Committee. It had been a protracted process, and a roadmap must be compiled. There was no certainty as to the cost of the migration project at this point.
Any college that was incorporated into the environment of higher education was entitled to the same level of autonomy as the other institutions. The colleges would not be treated differently from the other institutions.
In the management of colleges across different provinces, once these colleges had been incorporated into higher education, there were regulations that they must align themselves with, including monitoring and compliance as well as other important functions in the system.
The different phases would be tracked by the Department, as well as the transfer of the staff, which was a sensitive matter. The DHET was insisting on further consultations on this matter, because it needed to have budget provisions for migrating staff from one province to another. This would require a reasonable level of consultation.
The report on the feasibility study request would be shared with the Committee. The funding strategy must still be concluded with the National Treasury, and the DHET was busy with the funding model for universities and TVET colleges.
The relationship with NSFAS was very good. There were regular engagements with the Scheme. As for the other departments, the DHET had established a joint steering committee, and the one with the NDoH met regularly, and it would revive the steering committee for agriculture colleges.
National Treasury was central to the migration process. It provided advice on the transfer of the funding, and this funding was not transferred to the Department, but to sister departments. The DHET would continue to be guided on this by Treasury.
Lastly, on asset management, they needed to work closely with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) because the asset management of the Department was dependent on its guidelines and provisions. There was a process that must be undertaken for the relocation of the Department.
Mr Mabuza Ngubane, Chief Director: SETA Coordination, DHET, said the Department would come up with the career guidance document and consider addressing the need for a review of the SETA employer-employee separation and termination policy that must be developed to regulate the issues of resignation by those facing investigations for misconduct. It was correct that currently when SETA officials were facing investigations of misconduct, they resigned and that often became the end of the cases against them. The reports on Zegna (HWSETA) and the Omar Reports (AGRISETA) would also be furnished to the Committee.
On tightening up the SETA internal control measures and improving the monitoring of SETA projects, he said the Department had come up with a SETA management information system meant to report on the projects that were implemented by SETAs. The Department had hoped that from the information provided through the system, it could extract reliable reports for reporting purposes. The system had had some challenges, and the Department was not yet at the level of receiving reliable and valid information from the system. However, it would continue to monitor the system.
The other intervention in the skills development branch was collecting SETA quarterly performance reports. After receipt of these reports, they were analysed, a sample was extracted, and the departmental team would go to the SETA to validate the information. If there were gaps in the reported information and the evidence gathered at the SETA, the Department provided feedback and indicated the gaps that must be filled up by the SETA. Before any quarterly monitoring report was concluded, the DHET directs all the SETA CEOs to formally write to the Department confirming the information submitted or reported to the Department. Beyond this, there was a SETA performance validation framework in place that was used to guide how SETA performance information should be reported to the Department.
There was also a SETA governance charter and standards, which prescribe the minimum governance standards that all SETAs must have in place and improve. The Department conducts the monitoring of the implementation of these governance standards quarterly. If there was missing information, the DHET ensures that the SETA addresses such information. For example, the SETA governance standards require that all SETAs must have an audit action plan in place to address the audit findings. This action plan is submitted to the Department for monitoring and reporting purposes.
All SETA accounting authorities were expected to sign declarations of interest before the meetings on allocations of discretionary and mandatory grants. SETAs had also been directed to ensure that record-keeping was proper by keeping the records of all minutes and the resolutions of the meetings – from the accounting authority to the sub-committees, which were all expected to operate within their terms of reference. These were some of the measures put in place to monitor the performance and governance at SETAs.
This matter must be viewed holistically, both looking at how the SETA performed in meeting its predetermined objectives or the targets in the service level agreements and annual performance. This had to correlate with the state of SETA governance in terms of meeting the AG's requirements. In other words, if a SETA obtained a clean audit, the expectation from the Department was that the performance must be in line with the governance of that SETA.
Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, Director-General (DG), Department of Higher Education and Training, said that the roadmap of the migration would be provided to the Committee.
On the matter of TVET colleges’ autonomy, he emphasised that once institutions were registered, all the prescripts of the regulations of the Department applied to them, with no exceptions. It was important to take note of the progress that institutions had made in the past and build from that instead of dropping the good work that had been done, which includes a strong social compact with the stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
The Department would follow through on career guidance to ascertain how best institutions could work with KHETHA, which was a flagship programme that dealt with career guidance. The DHET was re-establishing a scholar unit in the Office of the DG, which partnered with other departments, to strengthen this area and the funding of the "missing middle" students. They were also awaiting guidelines from the Ministerial task team that was seeking to review the student funding model. This would inform the approach as they embrace the new agricultural and nursing colleges in partnership with the Departments of Agriculture and Health.
On the advertisement of bursaries and social auxiliary services, and numbers of people employed, all must adhere to government policy, and it would be monitored by the Department. The DHET must strengthen its oversight on all the matters raised and ensure that governance continues to improve. The Department had high expectations of its SETAs, and it aligned itself with the government’s commitment to fighting corruption and poor governance in institutions. The chairs of councils and CEOs of entities adhered to the principles that were enjoined by the Minister in the fight against corruption.
The Omar Report and the Zegna company issues would be rigorously assessed and investigated. He insisted that there was a general improvement in governance at the SETAs.
Ms Sepeng apologised for not reporting on the Omar Report. The company secretary would provide a background on this report. He had been with the SETA for many years, before the Omar Report was put together.
She followed by outlining the qualifications of the executives in the SETA. She herself possessed a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) qualification; the CEO had a PhD; the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) was a Charted Accountant; the executive manager for skills planning and research also had an MBA; the executive for the learning programme also had a master’s degree; the corporate services executive had a PhD, and the company secretary had an LLB qualification.
A detailed presentation or report would be forwarded to the Committee, as well as all reports that pertained to investigations conducted at the SETA.
The Company Secretary briefly provided some detail on the Omar Report. This report was ten years old -- it was dated June 2012. Omar had been the internal auditor at the time for AGRISETA. This report had made findings and recommendations for the SETA to open criminal charges against certain managers at the time. These recommendations had been implemented. He had accompanied the former CEO, who had taken over from the CEO who had left, to open a criminal charge. There was a case number with the Hawks, and it was opened in 2019 against the former CEO who was at the SETA in 2012, as well as Ms Moloto and her company Kediemetse. This matter was before the Hawks. The previous board had implemented the recommendations shortly after it received the Public Protector’s report.
It was recommended that the Kediemetse company must be blacklisted with Treasury, to never conduct business with government again. This recommendation had been implemented. The entity had written to Ms Moloto outlining that the SETA was blacklisting the company from doing business with the state. All correspondence on this matter with Treasury and Ms Moloto would be provided.
Regarding the “golden handshakes,” the CEO who was with the SETA at the time had six months of employment with the SETA left, after it found out about the Omar report, the board at the time had interrogated the former CEO, and later charged him. He resigned during the disciplinary hearing process in 2017. The CEO had entered into an agreement to part ways with the AGRISETA, and he was paid out for the remainder of his contract, which was for six months. The payment of the remainder of the contract came with conditions from the board. One of the conditions was that the money used without the authority of the board would be taken out of his pension fund.
There was also a recommendation that AGRISETA needed to review its own policies to ensure that something like this came to an end. The organisational policies were reviewed every year. None of the policies currently made provision for anyone to be paid out when a person was facing a disciplinary hearing.
Lastly, none of the current members of the board had been with the SETA at the time these issues occurred. These matters dated back to 2008/9. This board had been appointed on 1 April 2020. The current CEO was also appointed recently.
Regarding career guidance matter, she said the SETA targeted learners in grade nine as they prepared for the exit level within the general education system. The SETA also conducted 20 exhibitions in rural areas. It also invited schools from rural areas and found some schools without agriculture as a subject, but the SETA would come in and assist the school by showing the importance of agriculture as a subject at the school, especially if the school was in an agricultural area.
On bursaries, the SETA advertised through the funding window, which was initially from September to October, but now the advertisement was out by August. The total spent was around R17.8 million for postgraduates, with a target of 280 students and a funding provision of R63 600 per annum. For undergraduates, the target was 923 students, with a maximum amount of R39 750 for a year; this brought it to a total contribution of R36.6 million for a year. The SETA was also targeting partnerships with other stakeholders in the sector to increase these contributions for bursaries.
The SETA had recently held a meeting with the Minister, who had appreciated the SETA for the work it did with the limited budget it had. He had directed the DG to consult with the National Skills Fund about the possibility of getting funding for an extra 500 interns who could be placed at various companies.
On the 4IR policy, the SETA had started a programme with the agricultural colleges that were piloting that part with the view that when the programme was done and successful, it would be rolled out and increase the numbers. The SETA had made available the Connect initiative for students who had agricultural qualifications, attained at both universities and TVET colleges. They were able to register and match the students who qualified from the platform with the necessary employers for funding requirements.
The SETA had taken an initiative to the board on the agricultural sector student fund, wherein it appealed to commodity organisations about the inadequacy of the bursaries. A policy was also crafted for this, and some of the organisations had shown an interest in how they wanted to contribute, which would be over and above what the SETA received funding for.
On monitoring and evaluation, the SETA had targeted in the previous financial year that a team would be sent to monitor 35% of all its projects to establish whether what was on paper was in line with reality. It had monitored 35% of the programmes that were above R500 000, and left the ones below that mark. In the current financial year, the SETA had also targeted programmes that were below R500 000. The board had directed the CEO to provide a quarterly report on monitoring the projects and their status quo.
Above this, the SETA had gone back to 2016 to check how many companies had been cancelled then, and the reasons for cancellation and why they should be appointed going forward if they had cancelled then. A report was currently being compiled from 2016 until 2021 to furnish the audit and risk committee and the board to outline the companies that worked with the SETA and the reasons for cancellations. If the reasons for cancellations were deemed “not good enough”, the SETA would be able to blacklist them with the National Treasury.
A report on the qualifications of the executive and board members would be provided to the Committee.
The SETA had conducted a tracer study report for students that were appointed from 2015 to 2018 financial years. There was a sample of about 3 554 across seven programmes, and the focus was on employed and unemployed learners, and those that were self-employed. This was to check the impact of the programmes offered by the SETA. This report would be availed to the Committee, but among the key findings were that 34.8% were employed, 7.1% were self-employed, and 10% were studying. It further interrogated its offered programmes to ascertain how many were completed, and it found that 81% of the programmes it offered were completed, and 83% of the learners were satisfied with the programmes. The question was whether these programmes were relevant or not, and 87% of the learners indicated that they were satisfied with the programmes of the AGRISETA. A detailed report would be sent to the Committee.
Ms Sepeng said all the required reports would be forwarded to the Committee. AGRISETA would continue to reach out to the communities, because agriculture was one of the primary skills needed by them.
Dr Nomsa Mnisi, Chairperson of the Board, HWSETA, commenced with her qualifications and said that she was a veterinarian with a Bachelor of Veterinary Sciences degree, and degrees in surgery and medicine from the Medical University of Southern Africa (Medunsa), which was now the new Sefako Makgotho University. She also possessed a master’s in public health from the University of Limpopo. The CEO was a charted accountant, with a BCom and honours in accounting. These qualifications had been verified by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).
Ms Brass added that the executive manager of the research division, Ms Babalwa Plaatjie, had a master’s in social work and was a current PhD candidate for public administration; Ms Zandi Mafatha, the CFO, had BCompt honours (CTA) with a secondary teachers’ diploma; Mr Sikhumbuzo Xabashe, Executive Manager: Skills Division, possessed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Master’s in Public Management, and a PhD candidate. The two remaining executives absent from the meeting had also entered the PhD candidacy. The CEO was also busy with a Master’s degree. A more detailed report would be sent to the Committee.
She commenced with the Zegna matter, and said that yesterday she had received a report from the Education and Training Quality Assurance (ETQA) division on the matter. It was a complicated matter, as the HWSETA did not give any funding to skills development providers or training providers. All their funding went through the employers who contributed skills development levies, universities, or partners in the sector.
The HWSETA was concerned about what was happening. The ETQA division had gone to Zegna on 26 April to understand and get more information from them. Zegna had been contracted by the National Education Group Holdings to recruit and train 1 500 learners. They were training on various qualifications, but of the 1 500, only 945 were enrolled and training had been conducted online due to Covid-19 restrictions. Most of the learners had dropped out due to being disgruntled about the introduction of the R350 social relief grant from the Department of Labour. The circumstances around the grant issue were outside the control of the SETA. Zegna had expressed their eagerness to continue the training, but the learners were not entertaining the idea. In this circumstance, HWSETA had not provided the funding -- the funding was private, and had come from the National Education Group Holdings for training. However, the HWSETA could confirm that Zegna was accredited, and it was also approved to offer online training. HWSETA had very strict accreditation policies in place, and would never allow the training of as many as 1 500 learners.
HWSETA had also conducted a check through the employers to ascertain if some of them may have employed Zegna for training. It had only been Childline, for ten learners, and this was not part of that big group in question now. They would continue with their investigations and enquiries. When training took place in terms of their policies, all learners must be uploaded on the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, and they would go out to do verifications on those learners. There were a lot of controls in place to ensure that learners were valid, and quality training had taken place.
As the Department had indicated, the investigation would continue, and a report would be provided to the Department and the Committee. The HWSETA had zero tolerance for fraud and corruption and over a few years, it had dismissed many employees due to misconduct or fraud. They took it extremely seriously, and all matters were reported to the board and due process in terms of labour law was followed.
Currently, there were no matters of fraud that had been identified. Around March 2020, through a tip-off, they had identified two staff members in their Eastern Cape office, which included an employer of the HWSETA. It was investigated through a forensic investigation and the two staff members were dismissed and the employer was charged. There was a police file, and the matter was with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU). It was not an easy process to blacklist any service provider -- part of that process was writing to the service provider outlining the reasons for blacklisting them. It would be better if the process of blacklisting a service provider was easier. The HWSETA had not blacklisted any service providers in the past five years.
Due to Covid-19, the HWSETA wanted to still reach young people or interested learners, and had developed an automated career guidance portal, which was available to anyone online. The portal contained all the careers and occupations associated with health, social development and veterinary science. It also allowed a learner to take a questionnaire, which indicated based on the answers the type of career they were best suited for, and where those qualifications could be obtained.
They had had tremendous success in launching this portal. Last year they had reached 8 402 learners through the portal and far exceeded the planned targets, and they still went out to career guidance events. Last year they had participated in 14 events, and had just launched a campaign on veterinary science career guidance. There had been various interventions through social media, and the HWSETA would soon head out to the provinces to convey information about veterinary science careers.
In-house bursaries were available for staff members and skills programmes that would assist them in performing their jobs.
With regard to interventions with schools, during Covid-19 the HWSETA had invested over R100 million in Covid-19 interventions because their sector was affected by the virus. They had to be available to support the sector’s needs. One of the programmes was the funding of graduate interns – social workers who were employed in an internship for 12 months. These students went out to communities under the Department of Social Development, and conducted psycho-social support.
She confirmed that the training of nurses had been disrupted by the nursing qualifications moving to higher education. It had taken some while for the Council to accredit service providers. The HWSETA did not accredit any service providers or institutions offering nursing qualifications. However, they were hoping that with the initiatives they had in place, they could assist in reducing the shortage of nurses.
The HWSETA had commenced a research study on the emigration of nurses to other countries. This had been identified by the board. They were well into the study, and a report was due in July this year. This report would be shared with the Committee.
The HWSETA was serious about transformation, and for every programme it funded, it ensured that 70% of the learners that enrolled in its programmes were learners coming from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.
The HWSETA conducted monitoring and evaluation in various ways. It was done with learners who had come through for the SETA qualifications, and the quality of training and all programmes through discretionary grants were monitored. There were memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with employers which contained conditions that must be met. Part of those conditions involved the HWSETA physically verifying and reconciling the submitted reports with the evidence gathered in the training programmes with service providers.
HWSETA did not have any challenges with certification, or any backlogs.
The Acting Chairperson indicated that the outstanding reports and written responses as promised were to be submitted within seven days.
The minutes of 18 and 25 of May were considered and adopted without any changes.
The meeting was adjourned.
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