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LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
20 October 2005
ETDP SETA, FASSET SETA, WR SETA AND ISETT SETA: SECTOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING AUTHORITY BRIEFINGS
The Education, Training and Development Practices (ETDP) SETA, the Finance, Accounting, Management Consulting and other Financial Services (FASSET) SETA, and the Wholesale and Retail SETA (WRSETA) presented overviews of their activities and achievements. Staff breakdown nd skills development were highlighted. Financial details were provided, including projects and discretionary grants. Scarce skills within each sector were explained and key challenges outlined. Presenters then provided information on respective service providers and plans to improve training programmes. The Information Systems, Electronics and Telecommunications Technologies Education and Training Authority (ISETT SETA) was not permitted to present due to the outstanding report from the Auditor-General. A replacement date would be arranged soon.
Members asked various questions about the working relationships with other Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs), communication strategies to inform potential trainees of programmes, the projected impact of the levy exemption, promotion of transformation within each sector, the placement rate of SETA graduates, the existence of provincial offices, plans to address scarce skills, and accredited moderators that engaged in their own activities.
Financial, Accounting and Related Disciplines SETA briefing
Ms C James (CEO) noted that the vast majority of their member businesses were small operations employing between 1 to 15 people. The SETA had a staff complement of 20 people, with 95% being women. Available networks were used to arrange training initiatives. Skills development highlights were explained and the current financial status outlined. The SETA had received an unqualified report from the Auditor-General. Projects and discretionary grants were explained and certain key challenges identified. Corporate governance remained a priority and performance audits would be conducted to assess training methods. The SETA would promote the involvement of small-, medium- and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) in training activities.
The Chairperson noted the relevance of the SETA to the youth and the importance of skills development.
Mr M Mzondeki (ANC) noted the challenge to improve the pass rate of maths and science matriculants to provide a foundation for further training. He asked whether FASSET had a working relationship with other SETAs and with relevant departments. Clarity was sought on communication strategies to inform communities about programmes.
Ms James admitted that the poor maths results were a challenge, but various initiatives were in place to improve the statistics. Additional funding would be required to expand projects to all the provinces. No joint interventions existed with other SETAs to empower educators, but there were co-operation arrangements with provincial departments of education. Continuous professional development took place to ‘refresh’ professionals on new regulations and sector advancements.
Mr O Mogale (ANC) asked whether the recent levy exemption for certain SMMEs would impact negatively on the SETA’s activities. Strategies were needed to address gender imbalances within the sector. Ha asked what means of communication were used to attract potential trainees to their programmes.
The Chairperson reminded Members that the SETA visited all nine provinces four times a year.
Mr G Anthony (ANC) concurred that significant interventions were needed to improve the grades of black maths and sciences matriculants.
The Chairperson noted the poor proficiency of English that inhibited progress, and asked what steps could be introduced to raise levels of computer knowledge.
Mr L Maduna (ANC) asked why the SETA estimated that transformation within the sector would only occur after 7 to 10 years.
Ms James replied that the levy exemption would have an adverse impact on SETA programmes as less money would be available for activities. Amendments to regulations allowed the SETA to make financial contributions to SMMEs that did not pay levies. Such funds would be limited to learnership grants. National Skills Development funding was required for large interventions.
Resources had been allocated to train black women for positions on company Boards. The SETA did not place advertisements in the media but relied on existing networks to notify relevant entities of training initiatives. Regional associations visited black schools and rural areas to provided career guidance and instruction.
A recent study had identified certain obstacles preventing entrance into the sector. Funding would be facilitated to address issues. About 7 to 10 years was the average period to acquire a professional accounting qualification, and hence the use of such a time period to predict transformation.
Education, Training and Development Practices SETA briefing
Ms N Nxesi (CEO) provided an overview of the sector and highlighted scarce skills and critical skills. The organisational structure was outlined including management structures. Skills development achievements were emphasised and audit results provided. The SETA informed Members of committed funds and projects and the use of discretionary funds. Key challenges for 2005/06 were explained. The obligation to support NGOs remained. The SETA would enhance the skills levels of service providers.
Mr Mzondeki asked when spending would commence in certain sectionsm, and why no progress had been made. He also asked for detail on the placement rate of SETA graduates and whether projects would be rolled out further. Any linkages to community development worker training should be further explained. Clarity was sought on co-operation with provincial governments and local municipalities. He asked whether the SETA catered for disabled children through suitably qualified educators.
Mr Maduna asked whether physical structures were in place within provinces to assist programmes, or whether trainers were only sourced from the national level. The SETA had been successful in achieving projected training targets and reasons for the success should be communicated to other SETAs.
Mr Mogale referred to the presence of numerous advertisements in the national media by assessors and moderators seeking trainees, and who charged excessive amounts of money. He asked if such individuals were linked to the SETA and if management was aware of such activities. Levy exemptions would impact negatively on the SETA. Detail was sought on the estimated loss of revenue and subsequent drop in programmes. Detail was sought on the type of service providers used by the SETA and their demographic profile. Further explanation on VAT payments for projects was requested. He asked how the SETA marketed its activities.
Mr Anthony asked for an explanation on delivery of new financial regulations from the national department. The number of learners at the entry level should be recounted.
Mr Maduna asked what impact the removal of compulsory maths and science at schools would have on the SETA’s activities.
Ms Nxesi stated that grants would be allocated to organisations with workplace plans in place. About 50% of grants would be paid upfront and the remainder on completion of training. Some 635 780 learners had been trained at the entry level in the past five years. The Department of Education was involved in initiatives to improve maths and science matriculation results. ‘Centres of Excellence’ would be created in certain schools. Information technology training was in place for educators to enhance skills levels and promote meaningful training.
SETAs would no longer pay Value Added Tax (VAT) on projects, and that should remove the need for lengthy delays in the processing of claims. Detail on service providers used was contained within the Annual Report and a list of accredited providers existed within each province. Capacity-building programmes for service providers in rural areas would be undertaken to improve training quality. Certain criteria for service providers had to be met, including adequate infrastructure and financial viability. The SETA would assist in the establishment of infrastructure if required. Certain assessors and moderators had been accredited by the SETA and then engaged in their own activities due to the high demand for their skills. The SETA would follow up on claims of exploitation and ascertain any links to legitimate activities.
The SETA engaged in a verification process to assess the abilities of graduates and the subject matter completed. Provincial structures were still not in place, but a pilot project had been established in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape provinces to train regional staff.
A website was available to assist communication needs. The SETA adhered to the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) and increased revenue would be used to expand projects. SMMEs would be assisted by means of a voucher system to pay for training, and the skills levels of educators would be enhanced in collaboration with the Department of Education. Equity targets for trainees were in place with 85% recipients being black and 54% women. The SETA focused on ‘pre-grade learners’ within education programmes. No close relationship existed with community development workers within the provincial or national government systems. However, 300 young learners were involved in a similar programme within the SETA. Rural projects would continue due to high demand. Research would be undertaken to identify new learnerships to attract an increased market share.
Mr Maduna asked that the SETA provide regular updates on the delivery of scarce skills, such as the number of engineers graduating from training programmes.
Mr Mogale sought clarity on the quality of training provided by moderators that advertised in the national media. He asked whether they were able to provide similar service to those provided by the SETA.
Ms Nxesi stated that research would be conducted on the type of service offered by the moderators in question, and a written response would be forwarded to Members. All SETAs collaborated to increase the number of scarce skills in the South African economy. The co-ordinated response to challenges would continue.
Wholesale and Retail SETA briefing
Mr J Dikgote (CEO) provided a breakdown of their staff complement and the sector profile. A list of registered organisations was provided and detail was proffered on the levy: grants ratio. The SETA had received an unqualified report from the Auditor-General. Financial detail was elucidated for the past five years, and an overview of surplus funds was provided. Strategic projects were outlined and skills development achievements explained including the number of trained employees. The SETA outlined key challenges for the future.
Mr Mzondeki sought more detail on ‘Project Rave’ and asked how the participation of small companies within SETA programmes could be improved. Marketing exercises had to be sound to attract additional trainees.
Mr Mogale asked for detail on the types of scarce skills that characterised the sector. He asked what specific training the 10 000 graduates had received, and additional information on the service providers used by the SETA.
Mr Dikgote stated that Project Rave had received a more intense audit review and certain irregularities had been discovered with regard to VAT compliance. The relevant documentation had been recalled and corrections made for the benefit of the SA Revenue Service (SARS). The challenge remained to attract more SMMEs into the SETA's activities. Small companies found it difficult to make time for training purposes. An optimum training model for SMMEs would be devised in due course. The marketing strategy would be improved to reach a wider audience. Management skills remained of critical importance within the sector. Information Technology and financial knowledge were also priorities. Training programmes would be assessed to ascertain success rates. Exactly 57 service providers had been accredited by the SETA, and 30 were ‘in-house’. Greater numbers of external service providers would be established. Supply-chain management was a scarce skill on which the SETA would concentrate.
The Chairperson stated that communication processes should be improved to advertise the SETA's activities, and to inform Members and the general public of their achievements.
The meeting was adjourned.
Chairperson: Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Education, Training and Development Practices SETA briefing
Finance, Accounting, Management Consulting and other Financial Services SETA briefing
Wholesale and Retail SETA briefing
Information Systems, Electronics and Telecommunications Technologies SETA briefing