by Menet Hamel

Serving 3 Masters (Employer, SETA and QCTO)

The secret to serving both the employer and SETA, as well as Quality Assurance Providers for those employers who are registered training providers, is to keep the big picture in mind. In other words, skills development in South Africa. The needs identified by the employer or SETA do not supersede the other. These needs, however, collectively represent the requirements within each industry or sector.

Therefore, do not see this as serving a master but rather as addressing the skills shortages within different sectors. Use the information supplied by SETA via its Sector Skills Plan (SSP) to establish the employer’s internal workplace skills plan which will develop a workforce that not only impacts an employee’s productivity and performance but will inject much-needed expertise in the industry or sector at large.

On 10 November 2015 the Minister of Higher Education & Training published proposals for changes to functions of SETAs as well as the allocation of Skills Development Levy Funds. However, on 15 December 2016 the Minister advised that all existing 21 SETAs have been re-established until 31 March 2020. It would seem as if the implementation of the 2015 proposals have been delayed. The National Skills Development Strategy III was extended to 31 March 2020.

The 2015 proposals came about as a result of the White Paper for Post-School Education and Training: Building an Expanded, Effective and Integrated Post-School System’ released in January 2014. Click here for a presentation on the proposed changes.

Another master we now have to serve is the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO)

The QCTO’s role is to oversee the design, implementation, assessment and certification of occupational qualifications.

The QCTO also decided to replace the qualifications registered under the SAQA Act with occupational qualifications. In the QCTO Circular 2 of 2017, ETQAs (QAPs) will not be accrediting any provider for single unit standards or skills programmes as of 31 March 2018.  Effectively, this means that if any training provider wants to be accredited for any unit standard or skills programme, whether it is a new accreditation or an extension of scope, it must be done by 31 March 2018.

After 31 March 2018, new Accreditation for full qualifications will only be carried out by ETQAs (QAPs) if there is no QCTO-registered Occupational Qualification available.  Where a Registered Occupational Qualification is available, training providers (SDPs) are required to be accredited by the QCTO.

For any accreditations currently in operation, if you have not had any learners on any qualification, skills programme or unit standard over the last two years, you will be de-accredited for those qualifications, skills programmes or unit standards.

The good news is that any accreditations currently in effect – or to be attained – by 31 March 2018 will be valid until 30 June 2022 (or any other date as per the “Last date for Achievement” listed on the qualification, skills programme or unit standard).

Strategies to “marry” the skills priorities of the employer and SETA

The most successful way to marry the skills priorities of the employer and SETA is to access the Sector Skills Plan (SSP) for SETA the employer belongs to.

The SSP provides information to employers regarding the Critical and Scarce Skills  within that specific Sector and the plans which have been developed over the period of NSDS III to map out the occupational skills needs within a specific sector. Each year it is updated to analyse the changes in the sector’s labour market. It does so against the backdrop of the economic performance of the sector and the developmental agenda of the country. It sizes up the gap between the demand and supply for skills. Finally, it outlines strategies for dealing with the identified challenges.

There is a critical dependency on employers to participate in the collection of data which informs SETA what scarce and critical skills exist. It is via the submission of the WSP/ATR that employers provide this information to SETA. If we, as employers, participate by submitting our reports, in essence we influence the allocation of funding and indicate the priority of our skills needs.

The role of the SDF in relation to SETA

In the skills development process, an SDF is required. Only one SDF is allowed per organisation. If more than one SDF is required, the entity must decide who the main SDF is and that person will be responsible for capturing the data.

The SDF will be someone nominated by the organisation to assume responsibility for gathering and submitting the ATR/PTR and WSP/PTP data to a SETA. This happens before midnight on 30 April each year, as per legislation.

Some of the following responsibilities of the SDF have been borrowed from The South African Labour Market Guide:

  • Chair the Training Committee,
  • Be a non-voting member of the Training Committee,
  • Be a training committed leader and lead the process of organisational skills development and employee development,
  • Ensure that there is equal employer-employee representation on the Training Committee and at Training Committee meetings,
  • Ensure that at least four (quarterly) Training Committee meetings are held each year,
  • Facilitate the development of employees in the organisation,
  • Advise the organisation on the implementation of the WSP/PTP,
  • Ensure adherence to quality assurance requirements of the relevant SETA by the organisation,
  • Serve as liaison and contact person between the organisation and SETA,
  • Complete the ATR/PTR and WSP/PTP accurately and submit it to SETA before the deadline,
  • Ensure that the non- ATR/PTR and WSP/PTP data (organisation contact details, SDF details, etc.) on the Online Grant System is kept up to date at all times,
  • Conduct a skills audit within the organisation to ensure that all skills development initiatives meet not only the requirements of the employer but work towards the provision of scarce and critical skills identified by SETA,
  • A Skills Development Facilitator (SDF) is responsible for the planning, implementation and reporting of training in an organisation, with SETA-related duties. However, right from the appointment phase it is then based on roles duties and alignment to all outcomes of the unit standard delivery as well as adhering to SETE rules always.

Aligning staff training records to SETA reporting requirements

To ease the execution of reports to  SETA, we suggest downloading the templates provided by the submission portal and using these accordingly. This will ensure that all reports meet the requirements as stipulated by the respective SETA. Tedious corrections, re-submissions and report finalisation will be limited.

Tips for Establishing successful relationship with SETA

  • Personal contact is encouraged where an SDF schedules regular catch-up meetings with representatives of their local SETA office. Do not rely on e-mail. Always call or schedule a meeting if possible.
  • Do not engage in a threatening manner. ALWAYS attend the regional roadshows as direct contact with senior managers has yielded more results in the past than continuously liaising with junior-level staff.
  • Attend workshops scheduled by the respective SETA on changes that might affect the relationship between the employer and SETA.