Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Education and Training Authority Five-Year Review: briefing


13 September 2005
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


13 September 2005

Mr L Zita (ANC)

Documents handed out:

THETA briefing: Mandate beyond the initial five-year period
THETA briefing: Education and Training Quality Assurance
THETA Annual Report on website:

The Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Education and Training Authority (THETA) addressed the Committee on the milestones and pitfalls of its first five years. Members were also briefed on key strategies and initiatives of the following five-year cycle (2005 - 2009). The Authority’s stand on Education and Training Quality Assurance (ETQA) was also revealed.

Key concerns raised by Members included the poor representation of women in high-level jobs, youth unemployment, issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, and the projects of the Institute for Nature-based Tourism and Conservation Management (INTAC) and the SA Tourism Institute (SATI). They also discussed possible improvement of the Adult Learning and Training (ABET) system to cope with the skills challenges of the country.

Mr Langa Zita (ANC) was unanimously elected to be the new Committee Chairperson since Ms E Thabete, the former Chairperson, had been promoted to the position of Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry.


Chairperson election
Mr D Olifant (ANC) who had been the Acting Chairperson, informed the Committee that a new chairperson for the Committee had to be elected. Ms E Thabete, the former Chairperson, had been promoted to the position of Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry. Mr Langa Zita (ANC) was nominated and seconded by another Member, and was thus appointed.

Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Education and Training Authority’s Mandate briefing:
Mr Tsotetsi (THETA CEO) briefed the Committee on THETA’s mandate that had been extended beyond the initial five-year period. The authority’s challenges and achievements in the first cycle were reviewed. Key strategies and plans for the next five years were also outlined.

The Authority’s first five-year cycle had ended in March 2005. It had been re-established after the approval of its reapplication to the Department of Labour. The key determining factor for the re-establishment was the past performance of the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).

The first five years of its existence had been characterised by important challenges. Inherited institutional legacies had been reinforced by negative press coverage and auditing results. The National Skills Development Strategy underlay all the SETA activities. These included national priorities such as the development of critical skills, the stimulation of quality skills training in the workplace, the promotion of employability, and sustainable livelihoods. Assistance to new entrants into the labour market as well as improvement in the quality and relevance of training provision, would also be promoted.

Primary achievements in the past five years were noted. THETA had established partnerships with industry to deliver and develop projects. These included the Tourism Learnership Projects (LTPs), the SA Tourism Institute (SATI) and the Integrated Nature-based Tourism and Conservation Management (INTACT). Both discretionary and mandatory grants had been issued to the value of R36 million and R80 million respectively. The total value of developed projects was estimated at R144 million.

THETA had exceeded most of its targets for the first five years. The percentage of workers who had progressed to Level One of the National Qualifications Framework was estimated at 97 000. Of this figure, 75 000 were black African, 31 000 were women and 82 had disabilities. This exceeded its target by 161%. Twenty-four companies had been listed on the Investors in People Index (IIP). A growth in the investment in skills development in SMMEs had been 173%

The targets and strategies for the next five-year cycle (2005 - 2009) were also outlined. THETA intended to extend mandatory grants to 60 large companies, 92 medium companies and 468 small firms. The number of registered learners involved in Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) would be raised. A further 5 112 unemployed and 5 112 employed individuals would be placed in learnership programmes. Another ten institutions would be brought on board to assist in the development of critical skills. A further 409 young people would be encouraged to form new ventures.

Two critical challenges were highlighted. THETA would have to build the capacity of skills in South Africa in the following areas: computer literacy, ABET teaching, financial management, HIV/AIDS training, assessor and moderator training, and the development of management and leadership.

Disparities in the payment of levies would have to be tackled. About 20% of levy payers paid 80% of levies. 18 out of the top 50 levy payers were casinos.

THETA Education and Training Quality Assurance
Ms L Whateley, THETA Education and Training Quality Assurance (ETQA) Manager, briefed the Committee on her division’s functional role. She reported that all of THETA’s activities had shifted emphasis away from quantity to quality. This included registration that had been progressing gradually. 3 990 assessors and moderators had been deregistered. The authority had cut down on assessors, facilitators and moderators. Thus all initiatives were part of a renewed process of qualification and validation to enhance the quality of services rendered. Geographically, most registered assessors and moderators were located in Gauteng because greater economic activity occurred in that province. Demographically, most certifications were issued to black African women. Certification in the hospitality trade was greater than in any other sector.

Mr A Mokoena (ANC) suggested a five-stage process by which accountability and transparency in the organisation could be improved. He also asked the reasons why THETA had had to reapply for qualification.

Mr G Morgan (DA) asked THETA to elaborate on their capacity to support initiatives in poverty-stricken areas. He asked whether THETA would be able to provide sufficient support for projects since the funding of SATI and INTAC had been stopped. He also wanted clarity on the status of SATI’s and INTAC’s assets and staff.

Mr Tsotetsi said that the proposed projects merely ‘scratched the surface’ of rural development. Discussions were underway with the National Skills Fund (NSF) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for continuation of rural development projects. The SATI and INTAC projects were both on limited time contracts and would come to an end in three years. The Department had also approached the National Treasury to assist in funding. Regarding the status of assets and staff, he said that INTAC’s assets had been disposed of, while SATI had no assets. Staffmembers had been incorporated into THETA’s learnership programmes.

Mr Stuurman (Department Deputy Director: Tourist Guiding and Training) said they needed methods to sustain INTAC and SATI’s efforts and projects. The Spanish government had been approach for continued funding, but a response was still awaited. The Department had organised funding to meet the 10% THETA administration fee.

Ms R Ndzanga (ANC) requested clarification on learnership functions of the organisation. Were there qualified South African slot-machine operators working at casinos?

Mr T Matjebe (THETA’s Operations Manager) said that South Africa had a shortage of South African casino operators. Most casino operators working in South Africa hailed from the United Kingdom. The Authority had programmes and initiatives in place to train South African operators.

Mr Tsotetsi said that initially, THETA had not had a learnership unit. A division had been created to effectively handle learnership matters. This was a ‘work in progress’.

Ms R Ndzanga (ANC) asked how well companies had been responding to the voluntary grading system. Mr Tsotetsi emphasised THETA’s commitment to an effective grading system. Measures were in place to ensure this.

Ms M Ntuli (ANC) asked whether the ABET system made provision for the training of tourguides. She also asked what measures THETA had in place to ensure trainees’ progression from casual employees to permanent employment.

Mr Tsotetsi questioned whether about measures to monitor progression. A group of learners trained in the hospitality industry would be formerly granted a qualification on Friday at a ceremony to be attended by the Minister of Education.

Mr Stuurman said that ABET had to take the mobility of people into account. Tourist guides would therefore be trained in foreign language to ensure their wider marketability. The Department was also investigating ways to support individuals just starting ABET.

Ms Ntuli (ANC) raised concerns about the contradiction in the gender statistics. What measures were in place to ensure that women progressed to higher level jobs?

Mr Matjebe (THETA Operations Manager) said they lacked sufficient statistics about women’s career positions. Most women were in low-level jobs in the industry. Ensuring women’s progression to higher level jobs was critical.

Ms M Ntuli (ANC) asked what measures THETA had in place to deal with the employers’ negative attitudes towards their HIV-positive employees?

Mr Tsotetsi said that THETA’s contribution to HIV/AIDS awareness had been minimal. The organisation had however issued discretionary grants. It had also produced an HIV/AIDS ‘toolkit’, 15 000 copies of which had been distributed to the hotel and other related industries. The importance of more HIV/AIDS training was emphasised.

Mr D Olifant (ANC) requested clarity on the number of trained workers who had been promoted. What strategy was in place to ensure that job opportunities were created for unemployed youth?

Mr Matjebe acknowledged the lack of placements for the unemployed. Statistics from learnerships clearly showed an impact, as 46% of those with completed learnerships acquired employment. No study had been conducted to establish exact figures. A more accurate figure would be expected in October. Generally, youth unemployment and placement of the unemployed would remain key challenges.

Mr D Olifant (ANC) asked why there was a lack of synergy between quality accreditation across the SETAs. Why were private and not public institutions mentioned as Further Education and Training (FET) providers?

Ms Whateley reminded the Committee of THETA’s commitment to quality, not only quantity. She alluded to their ‘3P model’ of a ‘Platform’ to deliver training, an outcomes-based ‘Programme’, and a ‘Practitioner’ who was an assessor. The SA Qualifications Authority (SAQA) had recognised the problems relating to quality across the other SETAs and was currently working on a benchmarking exercise towards improving quality.

Mr Tsotetsi informed the Committee that most FETs operated as franchises. This made it difficult for the authority to create a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with their Head Offices.

The meeting was adjourned.



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