The Draft Skills Development Amendment Bill was first published for public comment by the Department on 28 February 2008 after extensive discussions had occurred within the Department of Labour, Department of Education, the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA), Joint Initiative on Priority Skills for South Africa and the National Skills Authority. These comments had been taken into account before it was tabled in Parliament in June 2008.
During the past week, submissions were made to Parliament by the Association of Private Providers of Education Training and Development, South African Qualifications Authority and South African Institute of Chartered Accountants on the Amendment Bill. The Executive Officer of the National Skills Authority responded to the proposals that were made.
Mr Morotoba said that the Bill had gone through an extensive consultative process prior to its introduction into Parliament and therefore, only three submissions had been received by Parliament in response to its call for submissions.
He responded first to the Association of Private Providers of Education Training and Development (APPEDT) submission. APPETD was recommending that the registration of training providers offering occupational training be done by the Department of Labour. Thus the wording of the amendment to section 17(c) should read “a training provider accredited by the Quality Council for Trade and Occupations (QTCO), and then registered by the Department of Labour….”. He said that their proposal was not supported as section 17 was about Learnership Agreements that could be accredited at various levels.
APPEDT further proposed that ‘skills development providers’ be replaced with ‘training providers’ wherever it was referred to in the Skills Development Act. The Department was not in support of this proposal, one of the reasons being was to be consistent with the debates that led towards the title of the current Act being referred to as the Skills Development Act.
Lastly, APPEDT proposed that under section 26H, the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) be responsible for all level qualifications. Mr Morotoba said that the Department was of the view that that addition was not necessary as the National Qualifications Framework Bill 2008, established a single integrated national framework that covered all responsibilities of each Quality Council (QC) under each framework.
The second submission was presented by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). They proposed for the deletion and the insertion of new wording under section 26G(1): “The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations is hereby established as ‘juristic’ person in the form of a Schedule 3A national public entity under the Public Finance Management Act”.
Mr Morotoba said that the legal opinion received suggested that the current wording was perfectly legal. He added that section 11 of the National Qualifications Framework Bill stated that SAQA would continue to exist as a juristic person.
The final submission was presented by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). They recommended that professions be included in the definition of occupational qualifications and that professional bodies be regulated under the Skills Development Act given their relationship with FASSET (Sector Education and Training Authority for Finance, Accounting, Management Consulting and other Financial Services.
Mr Morotoba said that the Department was of the view that the section 1(d) definition on occupational qualification be extended to include professions as follows: …”occupation means a qualification associated with a trade, occupation…add “or profession”. He said that professional bodies had always wanted to maintain their independence and have less interference by the State. He added that the views expressed by SAICA was that of one professional body and not necessarily the views of other professional bodies. He was of the opinion that it was based on their relationship with FASSET.
SAICA’s second proposal noted that in the Bill, skills development providers accredited by SETA Education and Training Assurance (ETQA) bodies would be recognized by the QCTO during the transitional period. However, there was no reference to professional body ETQAs in that regard.
Mr Morotoba said that they supported the proposal but believed that it should be considered for incorporation under the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) process.
SAICA also commented that there was no clarity in the Bill on the relationship between professional bodies and the QCTO.
Mr Morotoba said that that would be clarified in future regulations.
SAICA had commented on the delegation of powers and functions and it was said that it could be achieved without a new amendment as a provision under section 26I(e) could be used to delegate them that function if they were suitable. Lastly, SAICA proposed the establishment of a fourth sub-framework for professional bodies.
Mr Morotoba said that the proposal was not supported as that would require plenty of work and expensive consultation. He added that there were sufficient possibilities for co-operation already in-built into the sub-frameworks and broader NQF.
The Chairperson requested that members study the response and go through the submissions.
Mr B Mkongi (ANC) said that the Skills Development Amendment Bill had many things to do with the NQF Bill. He proposed that the Department of Labour and the Department of Education should meet so as to look at possible contradictions and possible synergy. He also proposed that the Portfolio Committee of Education be formally invited to contribute to the process.
The Chairperson agreed with the suggestion of a joint meeting with the Portfolio Committee of Education.
The meeting was adjourned.
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