Department Strategic Plan 2007-2010 briefing

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Labour

26 March 2007
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Meeting report

 

LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
27 March 2007
DEPARTMENT STRATEGIC PLAN 2007-2010 BRIEFING

Chairperson:
Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Presentation: Department of Labour Strategic Plan for 2007-2010: Part1 and Part2

Audio Recording of the Meeting

SUMMARY
The Department of Labour briefed the Committee on its achievements during 2006. There was not yet a full report on the Strategic Plan. The income and expenditure of the National Skills Fund was detailed. A scarce and critical skills list had been developed. Details of training were given, and it was noted that the apprenticeship assessments were problematic and had a poor pass rate. The Director General’s Review System for employment equity was described. The achievements of the Unemployment Insurance Fund were detailed. The impact of labour related legislation was being monitored. South Africa was playing a major role as a titular member in the International Labour Organization (ILO). Some of the items that were included in the Strategic Plan were implementation of the National Skills Development Strategy 2005-2010, with emphasis on artisan development, skills development support, adult literacy training, assistance to vulnerable workers, extension of collective agreements and child labour. The Department was implementing a service delivery improvement programme and the objectives were fully detailed. In the coming year there would be focus on the Compensation Fund, the integration of Occupational Health and Safety competencies across government, compilation of labour market information and statistics, promulgation of the Occupational Health and Safety legislation, implementation of the framework for the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations, and Sheltered Employment Factories. The Service Delivery Improvement Programme aimed to match job seekers with the job opportunities. An effective inspection and enforcement system had been developed.

Committee members stressed their unhappiness over the lack of a detailed report on the Strategic Plan. Members also sought clarification over whether the Department would have the human resource capacity to implement plans, the under spending and the Department’s position on Adult Basic Education Training. Details were requested on the child labour report and the skills plan. The committee requested the department to give a another briefing at later date, with a published report provided to the Committee members

MINUTES
Department of Labour (DOL): Strategic Plan briefing
Dr Van Mkosana, Director-General (DG), DOL, reported that the full report on the Strategic Plan was not yet ready for publication. He apologised to the Committee and said that the report would be ready in time for the next briefing.

The Chairperson stressed that the absence of a published report would restrict the ability of the Committee to engage in an in-depth discussion. She asked the Director-General to brief the Committee on the key issues and to come back for another briefing with a published report that would allow the Committee to debate with the Department on the strategic plan.

Dr Mkosana noted that he would concentrate on sections 4 to 10 of the presentation, which detailed the position up to December 2006.

The total amount projected as income for the National Skills Fund was R2.4 billion, of which R1.47 billion had been committed to projects and R640 million paid out. He added that a scarce and critical skills list had been developed and that 6,548 skills development facilitators were receiving training. 48,982 learners had been entered into a Skills and Education Training Sector learning programme and 1729 learners had been entered into a new venture creation programme. 2 364 candidates had passed the Indlela apprenticeship assessment. The success rate under Indlela was only 40%. It had been found that some trainers were weak. There was thus a need to investigate and find ways to increase the pass rate of learners in apprenticeships.

A new system, called the Director-General review system, had been developed to assess companies on employment equity, and those found to have unacceptable representation levels would be subject to a review by the DG. The Department was awaiting responses to recommendations made to the six large stock exchange listed companies that had been reviewed. The level of compliance with the protection of vulnerable workers at the workplace had reached 70%. An awareness strategy had been developed about the nature and extent of child labour in the country.

Workers covered under the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) had increased to 6.6million and all beneficiaries were being paid their benefits electronically. The Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) was promoting sound labour relations through the publishing of the annual industrial action report. The capacity of labour market institutions had been strengthened with the allocation of about R9.4 million to the Civil Society Fund (CSF) for training of vulnerable workers.

The impact of labour related legislation was being monitored as the Department’s institutional capacity was being strengthened. An employment equity plan for the department was being implemented in line with the Employment Equity Act. He added that an HIV prevalence study was undertaken in the department, which revealed that 88% of its staff was found to be HIV negative while 12% were HIV positive.
 
The achievements in international relations, in section 4, highlighted the major role South Africa was playing as a titular member in the International Labour Organization (ILO). The Minister was the Chair of its governing body.

The Director General then moved on to discuss some of the items that were included in the Strategic Plan. The medium term strategic objectives included implementation of the National Skills Development Strategy 2005-2010, with emphasis on artisan development. Skills development support would be given to small and medium and micro enterprises, non governmental organisations, cooperatives and small black empowerment groups. Adult literacy training (ABET) would be given to 40 000 employed learners. Projects targeting vulnerable workers in rural areas would be supported. Collective agreements would be extended to non-parties and labour organizations registered. Investigations into the hospitality and welfare sectors would be finalised by September 2007. The child labour programme of action would be submitted to Cabinet for endorsement.

A service delivery improvement programme was being implemented. Highlights of this programme included the establishment of effective employment services system, establishment of an effective inspection and enforcement system, development and implementation of service delivery standards, and innovations, including the use of ICT, for effective service rendering. The IT plan would be continued through a public/private partnership. The objectives of this plan were fully detailed and were intended to improve service delivery in remote areas. A human resources plan would ensure competencies through a skills audit, and training and development. Staff attrition rates would be addressed through a career management and retention strategy, and employment equity would receive further attention.

Dr Mkosana noted that there was a need to focus on the Compensation Fund as part of the Strategic Overview. The Department also must submit plans to parliament on the integration of Occupational Health and Safety competencies across government. A campaign by the International Labour Organisation would deal with South Africa in terms of employment creation. Labour market information and statistics would be compiled. The Occupational Health and Safety legislation, which was to be promulgated and implemented by 2008, would be dealt with during the year. Other initiatives to be implemented in the course of the year included the Framework for the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations, to be developed by March 2008, which resulted from discussions between the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Education over the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Labour Policy and Labour Market Programmes included the extension of collective agreements to non-parties and registration of labour organisations. Sheltered Employment Factories should receive a legal form to ensure the strategy continued past March 2008.

Dr Mkosana said that the Service Delivery Improvement Programme was a very important part of the work, which aimed to match job seekers with the job opportunities. It would also focus on retrenched workers and minimizing the effects of retrenchment, and on new labour market entrants, to decide whether they needed skills upgrades. This system would be ready to function on 1 April 2007. An effective inspection and enforcement system had been developed.

Discussion
Mr C Lowe (DA) wanted to know whether the Department would be able to spend the excess money in the current financial period. He noted a high staff turnover rate, and asked whether the Department had the Human Resources and capacity to spend that money in terms of achieving their objectives.

Mr. Mkosana replied that the department would be able to utilise the available budget. Reference was made in the presentation to decentralisation of functions and authorities. This process was going to be highly demanding. The budget also catered for the sufficient compensation and remuneration of staff. He apologised for the lack of a detailed report on the Strategic Plan.

Mr C van der Merwe, Chief Financial Officer, DOL, said the expenditure on the budget as of 23 March 2007 reflected an under spending of R75 million, or 5 percent of the budget.

Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) expressed his unhappiness over the lack of detail on employment equity achievements. Such documents were crucial in assisting the Committee to assess the Department’s progress. He also asked for further details of the employment services system that was cited in the presentation.

Mr T Anthony (ANC) enquired how the Department of Labour was working with the Department of Education in implementing the Adult Basic Education Training (ABET) programme. The Gauteng summit on education highlighted problems that the learners under the programme were facing. Currently the programme was not achieving the expected results and was being taken out of the mainstream of education. He asked for comments.

Dr Mkosana agreed that ABET had not been receiving the necessary attention in the past. The Department of Labour was now working with the Department of Education and the Department of Communications had indicated its interest to act as an information and communication enabler. Last year the Department of Education launched a study on how best to facilitate ABET, based on experiences in New Zealand and Cuba, and new initiatives reflected the new approach on implementing ABET.

The Chairperson noted that the Department had developed and distributed a scarce and critical skills list. The Department had also mentioned an awareness strategy that had been developed about the nature and extent of child labour in South Africa. She requested that these documents be forwarded to the Committee.

Dr Mkosana acknowledged that copies would be made available to the Committee.

The Chairperson emphasized the importance of skills development in employment creation. She asked whether the Department had made sufficient allocation of funds for skills development. She requested clarification on the R383 million increase in funds, indicated in the presentation, and asked what percentage of that would be allocated to Umsobomvu Youth Fund (UYF) and to skills development.

Dr Mkosana replied that R400 million had been allocated to UYF, taking into cognisance the role they had played so far, and in order that the programme could continue. The funds provided for Umsobomvu were requested separately from the National Treasury. Most of the funds for skills development were made available through the skills levy fund, an employers’ contribution that was received annually through South African Revenue Services (SARS). Furthermore additional funds were requested from Treasury for skills development. R400 million had been received from the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).

The Chairperson acknowledged that Members wanted to pose further questions but this was not possible owing to time constraints. Further questions could be asked at another meeting to be arranged.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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