Sector Education and Training Authorities’ Performance: briefing by Independent Researcher

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


22 February 2005

Chairperson: Ms N Ntwanambi (ANC Western Cape)

Documents handed out:
Lundall’s briefing: ‘Using specific Indicators to Measure the Performance of Institutions in the first phase of the National Skills Development Strategy’ (Rough Notes)
Paul Lundall’s PowerPoint presentation

The Committee was briefed by Mr Paul Lundall, an independent researcher, on the performance of the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and the National Skills Development Strategy. He explained the problematic components of the SETsA, and concluded that their objectives would most likely not be achieved. Members expressed their concern that SETAs were failing, and asked Mr Lundall if suggested improvements would warrant the continuation of the programme.


Mr Lundall’s briefing

Mr Paul Lundall, an independent researcher, stated that in his analysis of the SETAs’ annual reports, he had concluded that they faced many critical problems and that the National Skills Development Strategy’s objectives were flawed. The latter Strategy was premised on the idea that institutions were already fully operational. It took two years or so for training institutions to be fully operational, and even when they were fully functioning, it would take additional time for these institutions to reach their objectives.

One of the main SETA objectives was to have 70% of workers have a National Qualification Framework rating of level 1 (NQF1) or above. However in 2001, only 42% of workers had such a rating. There were glaring oversights in establishing these objectives, and that as a result, the initial objectives were far beyond what could reasonably be achieved. For instance, it would be almost impossible to move the percent of African workers below NQF1 from 54% to 30%. Moreover, when the statistics were broken down, it became obvious that even though workers below NQF1 fell by 18%, the percent of workers above NQF1 only increased by 1%.

Mr Lundall said that the objectives overlooked the fact that employers in Gauteng and the Western Cape had already reached or were close to the targets. Thus, businesses in these provinces would have to do little or nothing while the other Provinces would have to make vast improvements in order to reach the objective of 70% of workers at or above NQF1.

He said that even though improvements were being made, SETA would not be able to meet the objectives and the programme was not making the impact that was originally anticipated. Insufficient information was available in many areas due to a misalignment among the SETA institutions. Having only 12 SETAs in the nine provinces would most likely result in the availability of better data.

He pointed out that firms were currently not taking the initiative to train workers. The only training that had shown an increase was training courses that lasted two to six months. This meant that firms were abandoning short-term training programmes.

Mr Lundall stated that 6.257 people had been registered in leaderships, but that only 10% of that number had completed the leadership training. When incentives for leadership programmes were paid up front to firms, then those incentives was negated by the incentive to simply register people in the programme and collect the money without doing training.

Mr K Sinclaire (NNP, Northern Cape) said that the figures and the realities were not same, and that people had been using these statistics to promote their own agendas. These statistics amounted to a serious accusation.

Mr J Sibiya (ANC, Limpopo) asked if there were ways to measure the reporting from different sectors of the economy. He also enquired if they ran the risk of realising in 2006, when the programme was meant to be finished, that they would have to go back to square one because of the failure of the SETAs.

Ms N Ndalane (ANC Limpopo) asked what would happen to those people deemed to be ‘untrainable’. She also asked if there had been tangible progress made, and if Mr Lundall thought it was a good idea to continue with the SETAs.

Mr D Mkono (ANC Eastern Cape) stated that SETAs were a noble idea, but asked if SETAs had any ability to absorb people that had acquired their own training, or people that had sought further training without going through SETAs.

Ms N Ntwanambi (ANC Western Cape) asked if there was any research being done on how people with disabilities were being included in training.

Mr Lundall replied that the difficulty of developing indicators stemmed from the fact that it was difficult to get reliable sources. The SETAs depended on getting information from firms within their particular sectors. Currently, the best source of information was the national census, which was not taken very frequently, and the labour force surveys. Other than those sources, information was hard to come by and was often not reliable.

He added that it was difficult to determine the number of people that furthered their training by themselves. This statistic was made even more complicated because some people would receive SETA training in a sector that they determined to be easier to complete and then they ultimately got work in an unrelated sector.

Mr Lundall stated that there was a very real possibility of having to go back to square one in 2006 due to all the shortcomings. Simply not enough groundwork had been done prior to implementation. As a result, the Western Cape and Gauteng provinces had already met the objectives while the other provinces fell far short. Information systems were poor and that there was no need to have 25 SETAs. He advocated the consolidation of the numerous SETAs in order to form a more manageable and efficient network.

The Skills Development Strategy ought to be supported by a package to assist people that had furthered training on their own. Government should also encourage the creation of small businesses and enterprise development. This would create an active labour force and active labour markets. Ultimately, it would be an absolute disaster to stop the SETAs. Instead, there was a need to develop partnerships within the SETAs, as well as developing partnerships with other organisations. The SETAs needed to become a streamlined institutional configuration that was able to respond to problems quickly and effectively.

The SETAs were probably unable to absorb people that had gone out and trained themselves on their own, but Mr Lundall rejected the notion of ‘untrainable people'. Firstly, the term was extremely loaded. Secondly, such people had not failed themselves, but rather, society had failed these individuals. He blamed the failure of social institutions for casting people as untrainable or unemployable. Thus, for the purposes of the SETAs, there should not be anyone considered to be untrainable.

He added that he had not looked into statistics on people with disabilities within the SETAs, because they made up such a small component of the total number of participants.

The meeting was adjourned.


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