Industry players want Ceta grounded

By Roy Cokayne Time of article published Feb 3, 2011

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The Construction Education and Training Authority (Ceta) needed to be placed under administration as it remained dysfunctional and unresponsive to the needs of the industry, particularly the built environment professions, Consulting Engineers SA (Cesa) president Zulch Lötter said yesterday.

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande last year initiated action to place the Ceta under administration, but it applied for an interdict against the minister to prevent this happening.

Lötter said the Ceta had now deteriorated to the extent that the services of the current chief executive had been terminated, about the fifth time such action had been taken over the 11-year lifespan of the Ceta.

He added that employee morale was at an all-time low, with reports of internal dissatisfaction and threats of strikes directed at Ceta’s decision-making body.

Graham Pirie, the chief executive of Cesa, said employers had been paying a tax for 11 years and had not seen any tangible benefit to the sector.

Pirie said governance was a problem at the Ceta, noting that Cesa and the established built environment professionals had withdrawn from participation in Ceta’s council because it was “a waste of time”.

The reason for this was that Ceta did not have a business or management plan, plus the lack of results achieved and value added to the sector.

Cesa, which represents 460 member firms employing in excess of 21 000 staff, together with other built environment professional bodies and employer bodies including Master Builders SA and the SA Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors, last year voiced its full support for the move to place the Ceta under administration.

Rob Johnson, the executive director of the Master Builders Association of the Western Cape, last month lashed out at the performance of the Ceta.

Johnson said his organisation had said over the years that short skills courses, funded by the Ceta, did not address the lack of skills required in the building industry unless used for the upgrading of existing skills.

He said millions of rands in industry employers’ levies had been spent on short courses approved by the Ceta, but when project funding was requested for the training of apprentices they were given “every excuse in the book as to why the funding cannot be approved”.

Johnson said Ceta project funds had been wasted on short courses of 12 days duration, which offered no job sustainability to a person undergoing such a course.

These short courses also did not deliver any outcomes-based qualifications, and after completion the trainee moved on “never to been seen again”.

Johnson said master builder association members had introduced their own training levy for the training of employees to try and keep up skills training.

“Had we not done this 10 years ago, we would have had very limited skills which were required to meet the massive construction demand for the World Cup (which was held in June and July) in 2010,” he said. - Business Report

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