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PORTFOLIO COMMITTEES ON LABOUR AND MINERALS AND ENERGY AND SELECT COMMITTEE ON LABOUR AND PUBLIC ENTERPRISES
25 October 2006
MINING QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY AND CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES EDUCATION AND TRAINING AUTHORITY 2006 ANNUAL REPORTS: BRIEFINGS
Joint Chairpersons: Ms M Themba (ANC) and Mr E Mthethwa (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Mining Qualification Authority Presentation Part1, Part2 & Part3
Briefing by Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority
The Mining Qualifications Authority and Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority presented their 2006 annual reports.
Members discussed the governance structures and skills shortages in the mining industry, reserve funds, skills development in the chemical industry and ways of addressing skills shortages.
Ms M Themba (ANC) welcomed the members and the Chief Executive Officer of the MQA. It was decided that the presentations would first be done and then questions by the members would follow.
Presentation by the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA)
Mr M Zondi (Chairperson of the Board and the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) Convener) introduced the representatives from MQA. He then proceeded to outline the presentation and which person would be handling the different aspects of it presentation.
Mr L Nengovhela (CEO: MQA) gave a brief background of the MQA and its governance structure. He also covered the skills planning of the MQA and how they are assisting in research and in assisting the Small Medium Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the mining industry. Standards are kept in line with the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and are registered. It was also discussed how the MQA support learners in registration and support. The quality assurance is also monitored and accredited.
He also discussed the strategic projects which the MQA are involved in and how the finances are administered and controlled. The corporate services were briefly covered and this included the services provided to management, staff, stakeholders and clients.
Employment in the sub sectors of mining was discussed and it was emphasised that the gold mining and platinum group of metals sectors were the largest employment sectors. The geographic distribution of employees was discussed with regard to each province. Occupations with regard to women in the sector were represented on a pie chart and the fact that only three per cent of women were in managerial roles was pointed out as a challenge. The illiteracy levels were discussed as well as the qualifications distribution throughout the sector. In the gold sector, the employment trends have stabilised.
The six strategies for the sector were discussed which included the mining charter support strategy and the new enterprise development strategy. Also discussed was the facilitation of previously employed mine workers to be re-employed in some way in the industry.
Mr Y Omar (Chief Financial Officer (CFO)) continued with the presentation regarding the finances, in particular discussing the performance of the MQA, the financial reserves of the MQA and the five year plan that they have put forward.
He explained that 80% of the MQA’s funding came from the industry and that the reserves were rolled over from previous years. Money that was left for the projects that were being implemented had run out and what would be key would be to work out how to prioritise the expenditure.
Mr C Smit (Chief Operating Officer (COO)) discussed the projects and grants and the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS). He explained the progress thus far and explained the Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) incentive grants and how the organizations are paying the levy but are not claiming. It was also discussed how there are projects and grants that are made available for skills development of mine workers that are now unemployed.
The NQF unit standards and qualification registration was discussed and how they planned to incentivise businesses to train their employees in short training workshops for two to three days in a week so as not to keep them away from their employers for too long.
A graduate programme has been planned and thus far 113 graduates have been trained. Quality assurance was also discussed in that assessors and moderators were registered and trained for the sector. The new national standards were discussed in that 14 companies received grants. Other projects discussed were the Universities Employment Equity Grant and the mining and minerals-related Further Education and Training (FET) grant.
Mr Nengovhela discussed beneficiation support and how the grants are monitored. The beneficiation support also involved assisting training providers to achieve ETQA accreditation.
The Chair thanked the presenters. It was mentioned that all the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) could not be met with as there is so many of them. She commented that it would only be practical to look at the SETAs that are not doing so well. They were commended for their approach in their presentation.
Mr C Lowe (DA) referred to R12 million of the National Skills Fund which was not recognized as an expense. He asked for more detail to be given in that regard. He questioned the high performance bonuses as well.
Adv H Schmidt (DA) referred to the governance structure and questioned where the labour representatives were. He questioned the skills shortage that is currently being experienced and how the skills in the mining industry fit into the local and international markets. It was asked why there was a build-up in the reserves if the number of projects that were undertaken was decreasing. He also questioned research and skills planning along with the university employment equity and the fact that a budget of R6.5 million had been set aside for 11 lecturers.
Mr C Kekana (ANC) questioned how the standards were set and measured and how the skills needs were determined. The diamond market in South Africa is competing with the market in India. The standards need to be set and then measured as the results are required.
Mr E Lucas (IFP) asked about the employment trends in the industry and suggested that the skills that are available in the rural areas with regard to beading could be used in the diamond industry as well. He congratulated them on a simplistic presentation which was easy to understand.
Mr Omar commented that the R58 million was for four projects and R5 million was used on the last project. The performance bonuses and service bonuses were for two different things. The service bonus was like a 13th cheque.
Mr Nengovela replied that performance was measured and that they had a contract and review system in place. The decrease in the reserve funds was because when the MQA started there were no unit and quality standards in place and so the funding was not used straight away. Once the quality standards development had occurred the surplus funds were used in disbursing the grants. The ABET programme used most of the reserve funds. He stated that they had a commitment to manage the funds.
The CEO stated with regard to skills development that the industry needed to support it and interventions needed to be put forward and more research needed to be co-ordinated as this was very important.
Mr Smit stated that a follow up study had to be done on the shortage of engineers and that the skills requirements for the industry needed to be looked at. The university employment equity programme was using the R6.5 million over a three-year period and it would be used to help educate the teachers to become lecturers at university level with a salary equal to the qualification.
Ms Themba thanked the representatives of the MQA and asked to be excused as she had to go to another meeting.
Mr E Mthethwa (ANC) continued to chair the remainder of the meeting. He asked how it could be expected of a miner to risk his life and then be paid such a small salary. He suggested that the MQA prior learning programme and the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) should try and create synergy between each other and that prior learning needed to be recognized and that having worked in the mining industry did not mean that the person had not gained any experience.
Adv Schmidt requested a copy of the report on the skills shortages.
Ms N Mathibela (ANC) requested a breakdown of the skills that are needed in the industry and queried why the Limpopo province was not mentioned.
Mr C Nene (ANC) enquired as to the drop-out rate of learners and how that would influence the roles of the workers.
Mr T Anthony (ANC) enquired how ex-miners could be reached and how the retrenched miners could access skills. He also enquired as to how the retrenched miners could access the services and be trained in other industries. He questioned how the miners could access the ABET services outside their working hours.
Mr J Combrinck (ANC) questioned what would happen to the skills of the workers when the gold and diamonds were exhausted. He suggested that additional skills should be learnt at the moment and gave the example of a training school in how to polish diamonds. He also suggested the need for additional skills.
Mr Nengovela commented that there needed to be skills development in the platinum sector. He answered that when a mine closes the miners are taken out of the system and the links are hard to maintain and that there are not sufficient resources. Other parallel industries needed to be considered.
The Chair commented that the core business of the MQA needed to be kept to and that they were achieving this and that there was appreciation for the work that was being done.
Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA) presentation
Mr D Peo (Acting CEO) introduced himself and commented that the previous CEO of CHIETA, Mr R Patel, had moved on to the manufacturing SETA and that Mr M Dube (Regional Manager) was present to assist in answering questions.
Mr Peo begun the presentation by outlining the objectives of the briefing which included presenting highlights from the 2005/6 annual report, sketching future plans and challenges faced by CHIETA and that he would explore the mandate and sector linkages for transformation in the context of the sector skills plan for the chemical industries sector.
In the industry the statistics indicate that the sales volumes in 2004 were equal to 20% of the manufacturing sector and that less than 1% was spent on research and development. The employers in the sector were mostly from the Special Chemicals and surface coating sub-sectors. However the most employees were employed in the pharmaceutical sector.
A bar chart with regard to race and gender was shown and there tended to be more black people employed and more males than females in the sector.
Funds that were not used in the previous years were utilized for discretionary grants and sector strategic projects and there was an increase in Skills Development Levy (SDL) income in the financial year. From 2001 to 2006 the grants received matched and then declined compared to the grant expenses that were incurred.
In the levy grant disbursement by company size the small companies were a main feature. The highest disbursement of the levy grants was granted to the specialty chemicals and surface coatings companies and the petroleum and base chemicals companies were second to that.
The challenges that are currently faced include the unpredictability of the funding and the adjustments that had to be made as other SETAs needed to be paid. The focused cash flow management needed to be done in four months. The delay in the receipts of levy payments from the SA Revenue Services (SARS) also played a role in the challenges faced.
Highlights in the briefing included the voucher scheme, apprenticeship support, NSF funding, internal organization development (mission directed work teams) and the ISO 9001 accreditation (of which they were the first SETA to qualify).
Most targets were exceeded with regard to support for companies. In the learning programmes most targets were also exceeded although what had to be taken into account was that the course completion was over an academic year and not a financial year. On the Department of Labour SETA performance assessment, they scored the highest out of all the SETAs.
The Sector Skills Plan (SSP) and the petroleum industry together have a five-year plan which is reviewed annually and was underpinned by transformation and skills shortages. The SSP also supports the Women Leaders in Petroleum and Energy Project and would like to have a minimum of 30% women in top leadership positions by 2010. Also the Depot learner project would aim to have a pool of competent qualified operations supervisors by 2010.
Ms Mathibela questioned where the SETA obtained the money for all their projects.
Prof I Mohamed (ANC) questioned the use of protective clothing in the laboratories when using chemicals and also asked about motorcar oil pollution and what was being done about it.
Adv Schmidt asked about the critical skills that were needed with regard to the petrol industry and how the skills of welders would be improved as there was a skills shortage in that area.
Mr Anthony questioned how skills development of unemployed persons was progressing. people.
A member asked about the race issue and why there were only black and white people represented on the bar chart. He questioned whether people of other races could reach senior management level.
Mr Lowe questioned the use of internal and external auditors and whether the expenses would be reduced, as there would now be an internal auditor. He also asked why so much money had been lent to staff.
Mr Peo replied that the staff complement was 45 permanent staff and 20 to 25 contract workers. They were strict on administrative expenses and he commented that they did not anticipate staff increases in the future.
In health and safety it depends on the public and an NGO takes care of responsible container management. The critical skills that they are short of in the industry are where they will take a different route and will help to train those people in the industry in generic skills.
Mr N Dube (Regional Manager, Western Cape, CHIETA) stated that the CHIETA would go beyond skills development and develop new standards and that the environmental question involved labour and business. The level of welding skills had to be increased and the qualifications had to be internationally recognized. The question of the limited reserves had to be prioritized according to the performance targets that had to be reached and the stakeholder issues.
On the race and gender issue he mentioned that they had a more detailed report which could be forwarded to the member. The question of the demarcation of the auditors needed to be referred to the accountant and it was possible that the areas of responsibility would be functionally different.
He emphasized that loans were only made on a month-to-month basis and that not more than 50% of salaries were advanced to staff.
The Chair thanked the members and stated that the annual reports would be followed up as well as the finances.
The meeting was adjourned.