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FULL SPEECH: Minister Blade Nzimande gives update on outcome of engagements with Setas

Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande Picture : Simone Kley

Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande Picture : Simone Kley

Published Mar 4, 2022

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The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, on Friday hosted a media briefing on the outcomes of the two day engagements with the Sector Education and Training Authorities (Setas) on their role in fighting unemployment, inequality and poverty through skills development.

As of March 2011, there are 21 SETAs. Each SETA is responsible for managing and creating learnerships, internships, unit-based skills programmes, and apprenticeships within its jurisdiction. Every industry and occupation in South Africa is covered by one of the 21 SETAs.

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Here is his full speech:

We welcome you all in this first media briefing regarding learning and training opportunities provided through the SETAs, as well as to brief media on the outcomes of the sessions I held with all twenty-one (21) Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) Chairpersons and Chief Executive Officers to deal with a number of skills development interventions in our drive to fight unemployment, inequality and poverty.

President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation (SoNA) Address 2022, amongst others, said that:

“…the Department of Higher Education and Training will place 10,000 unemployed TVET graduates in workplaces from April 2022…”

In my response to the SONA, I confirmed our commitment to ensure that the skills development system will indeed be offering about 100 000 opportunities, including but not limited to, learnerships, apprenticeships, as well as internships. We urge our young people in particular to look out for these opportunities in the SETA and other skills levy offerings.

In the meetings I had with all the 21 SETAs earlier this week, I particularly urged the SETAs to give priority to the work placement of TVET college graduates who require workplace exposure so as to complete their training and to facilitate the transition for learning to working.

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Government has already spent vast amounts of money support our youth through the TVET system, and therefore it is important that we assist them to transition to workplace through appropriate placement.

I also wish to upfront call upon all employers to open their workplaces for the placement of both TVET college students as well as to give workplace exposure to TVET college lecturers, so that they teach and train in what is currently needed by industry.

The primary aim of these placement is to assist the transition of our young people from learning to working.

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Today I would like to give you an account of the strategies and plans of the Ministry to give practical effect to what I have just said, also as part of realisation of the commitment made by the President in this regard.

It will be remiss of me, to assume that everybody knows the work of the SETAs in our country.

We have twenty-one (21) SETAs operating almost in every sector of our economy, a resource that something most countries in the world would wish to have.

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Our SETA landscape comprises, in the main, of representatives of Organised Business and Organised Labour operating in designated sectors of the economy and public sector.

The key legislative mandate of the SETAs is defined in the Skills Development Act (Act 97 of 1998) (the SDA) as amended, in which amongst others, the SDA directs the SETAs to develop Sector Skills Plans (SSPs), reflecting the:

Profile of that Sector;

Key Skills Change Drivers;

Occupational Shortages and Skills Gaps;

SETA Partnerships;

SETA Monitoring and Evaluation; and

SETA Strategic Skills Priority Actions.

In the Sector Skills Plans, SETAs must also reflect and seek to incorporate on government priorities, especially on those to address the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality as captured in the National Development Plan.

The SETAs have subsequently developed their Annual Performance Plans (APPs) to address skills challenges in various sectors of the economy and country in general.

In my engagement with the SETAs, we also looked, amongst others, on how the SETAs have performed the past five years (2016/17 to 2020/21).

We furthermore collectively agreed on skills development interventions planned for the 2022/23 financial year, especially on those aimed at supporting the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP).

I must indicate that there is widespread agreement and commitment by the SETAs that we need to significantly expand the participation of young people in skills development programmes as well as workplace-based learning opportunities. And this has been given practical effect in their 2022/23 annual performance plans.

Our skills training interventions will also seek to support and strengthen the District Development Model which aims to improve provision of services and socio-economic development in each of our 44 Districts and 8 Metros.

Ladies and gentlemen

We note the unacceptable high numbers of young South Africans, especially between the ages of 15-24 who are unemployed at 66.5%.

About 3.4 million of the same cohort are not in employment, education and training (referred to as NEETs).

As the Department of Higher Education and Training, we have therefore increased our targets for workplace-based learning for the financial year commencing on 1 April 2022, with our annual target above 100 000 (107 000).

In addition to the 107 000 workplace-based learning opportunities (which includes Learnerships, Internships, Work Integrated Learning), for the Financial Year 2022/23, we are also targeting 20 500 opportunities for apprentices, 22 500 for artisanal trades; 31 300 for those completing learnerships and 148 000 for learners entering into various other skills development programmes, such as digital skills, crop production and plant production.

I am happy to indicate that each and every SETA in relation to the President, have committed to place no less that 500 TVET learners in various workplaces. In addition, the AgriSETA, working together with the National Skills Fund is going to focus on placement of not less than 500 work placements of students coming out of agricultural colleges and agricultural programmes offered in some of our TVET colleges.

As we speak all SETAs are finalising their Annual Performance Plans, to reflect these commitments.

Ladies and gentlemen

As you know, the year 2020 was seriously affected by COVID-19 adjusted lockdown regulations.

Our skills system own revenue dropped from our projection of R19.4 billion to R12.4 billion, as a result of the skills levy holiday for employers who contribute the 1% skills development levy.

However, our SETA system remains resilient in the midst of the challenges imposed by COVID -19 and the economic downturn.

However, we will prioritise this sector, and we will re-allocate additional funds from the National Skills Fund, with our immediate focus being on work placement of graduates in TVET N6 Hospitality and Catering Services and N6 Tourism and NCV L4: Tourism learners.

The Bank SETA has set aside R54 million for 2022/2023 to reskilling and upskilling workers in the banking sector.

I must indicate as well that SETAs will be supporting my Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) in the development of critical high-end skills in selected technology areas such as the bioeconomy, space science, technology energy, intellectual property management, etc.

Support would also be directed towards technical development and the artisan skills that would contribute to the commercial exploitation and social beneficiation of newly developed innovations.

Work Based Learning programmes

For the past five years (from 2016/17 to 2020/21), SETAs focussed amongst others on the delivery of workplace-based learning programmes.

Through our SETAs we have created 572 345 opportunities and produced 96 317 artisans with 124 925 learners entering our apprenticeship programmes.

Though we lost much revenue in 2020/21 due to skills levy holiday and COVID-19 global health pandemic, we still registered some significant progress for the year ended 31 March 2021.

The SETAs combined, placed 44 619 unemployed into learnerships, of which over 34 710 were young people below the ages of 35 years old and over 25 550 were females at the cost of about R 1 billion.

In the same period, we placed 9 901 interns, of which 9 096 were young people below the age of 35 years old and 6 455 were females. Our SETAs spent just over R883 million in this regard.

For TVET placement, SETAs placed about 8 539 learners with females at 5 656 at the cost at the total cost of R393 million.

For the university placement, SETAs placed 5 183 learners in workplaces at the value of R300 million.

Various SETAs have shared some of their tracer studies regarding the impact of some of the SETA interventions.

I am made aware that through these tracer studies, where learners were supported with bursaries post their qualification, the job absorption rate is at about 61%.

Some other important results of tracer studies were from the Education, Training and Development Practices Sector (under ETDP SETA sector) where, for example, the bursary intervention yielded a significantly higher percentage of beneficiaries getting full time employment at about (95%), followed by Work Integrated Learning in universities of technology (UoTs) at (89% employment) and learnerships (83% employed) and TVET work integrated learning students beneficiaries being absorbed in employment at 74%, with internships leading to 63% employment absorption.

As a department, we conducted an artisan tracer study for the cohort of 19 627 artisans who passed their trade testing in the financial year 2018 - 2019.

79% of the artisans responded that they were employed in various companies whilst 2% self-employed.

Artisans produced include those urgently needed in the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) and delivered through our Centres of Specialisation (CoS) originally established to support our National Infrastructure Plan (NIP).

Approximately 80% of those who passed their trade tests during the period ended 31 March 2021, were young people under 35 years of ages.

What is more impressive is to see that on the top 10 trades where young people were found competent (or passed trade testing), were trades such as: Electrical; Mechanical Fitter; Diesel Mechanic; Plumber; Millwright; Welder; Boiler Maker; Automotive Mechanic; Fitter & Turner and Rigger which are required by our economy.

Whilst dealing with artisan development in our country, I was honoured to have been invited by the National Union of Mine Workers (NUM) on 29 April 2021 to showcase their contribution towards artisan development through their own Skills Centre called Elijah Barayi Memorial Training Centre Artisan Academy.

This academy focus on critical areas of our economy such as mining, construction, energy and manufacturing, as identified in our ERRP.

The Energy and Water SETA is already working with the union and the Skills Centre on Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning (ARPL) focusing on water and energy.

I am also aware of the new programme between the Academy and the Energy and Water SETA to benefit 300 learners in skills programmes and 150 in learnership.

I am happy to announce that our SETAs and the National Skills Fund committed to support this noble course.

Almost wherever I go across the country, our communities are yearning for expanded access to post school opportunities, hence the establishment of skills centres in some of localities to support skills development.

On 21 October 2021, I was in Limpopo on the occasion of sod-turning of the Sekhukhune Skills Development Centre.

We invested about R146,9-million, through our Wholesale and Retail SETA, in collaboration with the Sekhukhune TVET college.

R131 million is for the building of the Skills Development Centre; R9 million is for capacitation of informal traders and construction of trading stalls for 45 informal traders operating in the surrounding areas and R6,9 million is to construct an access road into the Centre.

We are also doing some work with the FP&M SETA at Endaleni in Richmond in KZN in collaboration with uMngungundlovu TVET College to offer the following occupational qualification, such as garment construction, furnisher making, IT, with free wifi for students, the shoe making centre of excellence and the newly established innovation hub.

The Health and Welfare SETA has a partnership with the UKZN to train lay counsellor for psycho social services in support of those negatively impacted upon by Covid 19 pandemic.

Master Skills Plan:

We have begun a process of crafting one country one skills plan (Master Skills Plan).

This process will promote a more efficient and effective mechanism for country-wide skills planning.

The master skills plan will draw on the information available in existing plans, such as the National Skills Development Plan, Human Resource Development Strategy, Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, ERRP Skills Strategy, National Plan for Post School Education and Training, SETA Skills Sector Skills Plan, Master Economic Sector Plans, and National, Provincial and Local Government Skills Plans.

NSF funding activities

For this current financial year, the National Skills Fund (NSF) in partnership with the Presidency has allocated R100million towards the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative which will benefit 4500 learners in the digital learning space.

The NSF has committed R200million to employment creation initiative between the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Department of Employment and Labour through the UIF. This project will benefit more than 5000 unemployed youth.

Quite a number of Request for Proposals have been posted in the press inviting skills development providers to participate in projects which are targeting worker education and empowerment and also assistance the community of people living with disabilities.

The total value of these project is in excess of R200million and will assist more than 2000 beneficiaries.

The NSF has finalised an important policy which will regulate unsolicited proposals (proposals initiated by the Skills Development Providers themselves) through their skills development creativity and innovation.

The area of NSF unsolicited proposals traverses and will fund a broad range of skills development providers including churches and other cultural and community development.

We have receive a lot of these proposal and they are currently being considered for due diligence purposes. The total amount allocated for the unsolicited proposals will exceed R1.5billion in this current financial year.

We estimate that this will benefit more than 20000 beneficiaries in various skills development areas.

We are also partnering with the Catholic Church through their Thabiso Skills centres and the Methodist church to provide much needed skills to communities. We further intend to partner with other faith based organisations to further our skills development drive.

Community Education and Training Colleges

Ladies and gentlemen

I will be hosting a national Summit on CET on 08-09 March 2022. This will be the first of its kind aimed at engaging with strategic partners on using our community education learning centres to massify skills programme provision. I want the Summit to also identify priorities for dedicated CET infrastructure, accreditation of programmes, lecturer capacity, partnerships and the information management systems for proper monitoring and reporting.

I am highlighting this because all our SETAs will be playing a central role in supporting our CET sector in the massification of skills development in our country especially aligned with the skills strategy.

Already our SETAs are supporting a number of skills programmes in the CET sector, including the following:

Agricultural Sector Education and Training Authority (AgriSETA) - Plant production;

Education, Training and Development Practices Sector Education and Training Authority (ETDP SETA) - Early Childhood Development Practitioners; Capacity Building for CET lecturing staff; and recognition of prior learning programme,

Finance and Accounting Services Sector Education and Training Authority (Fasset) - Financial literacy and entrepeneurial development

Fibre Processing and Manufacturing Sector Education and Training Authority (FP&M SETA) - clothing manufacturing, sewing skills programmes and learnerships, and furniture making,

Local Government Sector Educationa and Training Authority (LGSETA) - Environmental practice; local economic development and leadership development,

Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA) and SASSETA - End User Computing including for lecturing staff on use of digital technologies,

Transport Education Training Authority (TETA) - professional driving.

We are in the process of establishing fifty-four (54) ICT laboratories (for web design, end user computing, etc) in the designated 54 pilot community learning centres nationally with funding support from the W&R SETA.

The W&R SETA is also establishing a skills centre in Reitz in collaboration with the Municipality and Local Business.

There is also work in the upgrading of qualifications for lecturers, by offering an Advanced Diploma in Adult and Community Education and Training- Teaching (Advanced Diploma-ACETT). This project is part of capacity building supported by the ETDP SETA and offered through the Durban University of Technology.

SETAs in our recent meeting with the SETAs, we concretised their support for CET colleges in the short, medium and long-term community projects.

As I conclude, I want to indicate that together with the chairpersons and the CEO’s of all our SETAs we have also agreed to fight all forms of maladministration and acts of corruption within our SETAs.

This is amongst the reason that we had to place the Construction Education and Training Authority (CETA) under administration. The forensic investigation into CETA is now complete and we are processing it as the Department.

I must emphasise that we will leave no stone unturned to ensure that all those who uses the SETAs for their own personal benefits are held accountable.

I must indicate that this is the principle that we have adopted as the entire Post School Education and Training sector to ensure that we run a corruption free administration.

To demonstrate further demonstrate our seriousness in fighting maladministration and corruption in the PSET, I have appointed a forensic company to conduct a full-scale forensic investigation into financial affairs of the NSF following the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) report that found that much of a total amount of just under R5 billion could not be properly accounted for over two financial years by the National Skills Fund (NSF).

In addition to the appointment of a forensic company, I have also appointed a Ministerial Task Team (MTT) to conduct a strategic review of the NSF, the general operations of the NSF, its efficiency and relevance with regards to the national skills priorities of the country.

The review includes the mandate, policy scope and analysis of NSF capacity, systems, and organisational modelling in relation to its mandate as a Schedule 3A skills levy entity.

As my agreement with President Ramaphosa, the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, will continue to train, train and train so as to skill our people, with a particular focus on youth.

We will continue to establish both national and international partners to join us in ensuring that we create the necessary jobs that our economy and our country so much need.

For further training and skills development opportunities offered by our SETA, I invite all South Africans to interact with our SETAs through their websites and that of the Department of Higher Education and Training at www.dhet.gov.za.

Thank you.

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