Skills Development Strategy; Social Plan Project

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Employment and Labour

26 October 1999
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


26 October 1999

Documents handed out
Social Plan Project
Skills Development Strategy

The Employment and Skills Development Services Directorate of the Labour Department gave a briefing on their plans to monitor skills development as well as the time frames in terms of skills development strategy.

The Social Plan Project has been put in place to discourage retrenchments in the first place and then minimise the effects thereof. The Retrenchment Response Team is there to give retrenched workers support and to ameliorate the effects of retrenchments on individuals and local economies.

Skills Development Act
Ms A. Bird, Chief Director of Employment and Skills Development Services, said that this Act is needed to improve the quality of life for workers, many of whom are locked into unskilled labour. Raising the level of skills is a vital ingredient to productivity in the workplace and will cause the economy to grow. It is time for people to move away from being job seekers to being job creators. The Act is intended to promote self-employment and consequently to improve the delivery of social services.

The use of the 0.5% levy on employers will be as follows:
20% will go to the National Skills Fund; with at least 50% to be returned to employers in the form of grants for training programmes.
At most, 10% for Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA) development and
At most 20% (to drop to 10% in year two) for SETA administration.

The European Union has donated R280 million towards the implementation of this Act. There are also eight other donor governments.

27 SETAs have been approved by the Minister.

The core function of the NSA is to liaise with the SETAs. The function of SETAs is to look at each sector's skills plan; how it will benefit the employee and employer; what has to be done by whom and by when. It also has to promote the construction of new qualifications (learnerships), as Ms Bird further explained that, "theory goes with some working experience".

The involvement of employees is important as they can assist employers in the identification, creation and in the implementation of these training programmes.

The National Skills Fund is to address those who are fresh from school and do not have work experience. The Department will be administering the training provision for those learners.

Questions and Answers
A member asked if the training takes into account the use of the various languages. Ms Bird replied that this has not yet been identified as a problem but technical skills can be taught in any language.

Mr Mshudulu (ANC) asked how the unemployed will benefit from this training. Will there be enforcement?
Ms Bird responded that the provision of training will help the unemployed as they will acquire skills through training and at the same time can apply them in the workplace and gain experience. With regards to the second question of enforcement, the Director General has the authority to ensure the Act's enforcement.

A member asked how can it be ensured that the lowest rung of workers are included in the training schemes.
Ms Bird replied, "Areas have to be identified where training is needed and reward those employers who provide it. We must also find out which sectors need skilled workers before we launch the training schemes."

A committee member asked, "Will the Minister or the Department decide who how the money is distributed? How much are we talking about? I’ve heard percentages only".
Ms Bird’s reply was, "The Director General gives authority for payments. Regarding percentages, there are only estimates at this stage, R200 million has been estimated for Year One."

A DP member asked whether the Act was merely establishing another statutory body. Employers who do not train staff will not change.
"Ask this question in a year's time and in the meantime join us in making it succeed", responded Ms Bird. "Those employers who do not train, still have to contribute to the levy."

Social Plan Project
Ms Nkhabele Marumo, Director of Employment and Skills Development Services, said the aim of the Social Plan Project is to discourage retrenchments and to save jobs. Where this is not possible, consideration must be given to the effects on individuals and on communities. The Retrenchment Response Team is there to give retrenched workers support by presenting them with alternative ways of earning income. The task team is focussed mainly on the mining industry as that is where most of the retrenchments are taking place. The Department will contribute 50% of the costs to retrain retrenched workers. Job Advice Centres will be established. Often local economies have to be regenerated to deal with mass retrenchments in a community. Due to time running out, the meeting was adjourned.


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