Governments across the global sphere are increasingly recognising the need for continuing education, not only at academic centres for higher learning, but also for highly skilled professionals within the workplace.  The continuing development of skills and knowledge throughout life is valuable to both business and individuals, and is essential for our continued economic wellbeing.  Furthermore, a business is a growing concern, and its most precious asset is its Human Capital. For a business to be able to grow, it must invest in its workforce in the form of training, as laid out in a Workplace Skills Plan (WSP).

The deadline for the submission of Workplace Skills Plans (WSPs) and Annual Training Reports (ATRs) during 2012 was the 30 June, which brings to mind the need for companies to do more than simply look at their skills levy as a legal compliance issue. Business needs to become involved in developmental objectives and sustainable development to help in the fight against poverty.

In response to the growing need for effective skills development solutions, targets were set through national policies such as the National Skills Development Strategy  and the Skills Development Act No 97 of 1998 (SDA),which was promulgated to ensure that a larger portion of the workforce:

·        achieves recognition for work experience and knowledge gained on-the-job, where formal education has not been accessed; and

·       has access to both formal and vocational training, through which they could continue personal learning and development, achieve higher level qualifications, and improve their skill sets in order to enhance their career options.

In order for these targets to be achieved, ...

it is imperative that business becomes involved, and that the skills development in an organisation is managed by an individual who is qualified and equipped to do so.  Although an organisation is not confined to the selection of an individual in the company to fulfil the role of Skills Development Facilitator (SDF), the importance of the role of the SDF is often misunderstood.

The SDFs must, first and foremost, ensure that a learning culture is developed within the organisation. Secondly, they need to identify and source the appropriate training interventions for employees across the board. By fulfilling these obligations, the SDFs not only support employees in their quest for holistic self-improvement, but by doing so they also facilitate their contribution to the achievement of the company’s goals and objectives.

An SDF is a specialist in the field who should have, in terms of the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA), undergone training, qualified, and been registered as an SDF by a SETA. This means that they come from a strong knowledgeable and ethical position of planning the training needs of the company solely according to need and not the payroll. Their training imbues them with the knowledge required to focus on individual needs and development plans, whilst also paying heed to the needs of the organisation, as part of their long-term planning.

Changes in Legislation and within the SETAs

Education is a growing phenomenon and the skilling of the workforce must of necessity keep abreast of the needs of industry as a whole. To this end, Government, Organised Business, Organised Labour and Communities came together in a new partnership to identify common areas in skills development, to which all parties committed and agreed to implement, in the interest of achieving the broad goals of the New Grow Path for the benefit of our country as a whole. This partnership culminated in the signing of the National Skills Accord in July 2011.

The 2011 – 2016 NSDS strategy consists of 9 goals, 16 outcomes and 38 outputs, which are to be achieved by SETAs in collaboration with the DHET, FET colleges, universities and the NSF.  This strategy  promotes partnerships between public education institutions (universities, FET colleges, universities of technology), employers, private training providers and SETAs.

NSDS III further ensures increased access to training and skills development opportunities, with the emphasis on quality, relevance and sustainability of skills training programmes,  in an attempt to ensure that their impact on the eradication of inequalities and reduction of poverty is positive. It is guided by and measured against key developmental and transformation imperatives of inequities associated with race, class, age, gender, and disability, as well as the HIV and AIDS epidemic in our society.

The National Development Plan (NDP) Vision for 2030 closely mirrors the 9 Key Developmental and Transformational Imperatives of the NSDS III and emphasises the fact that “too few people work” and highlights “the poor quality of education” in South Africa. It stresses the fact that a failure by South Africa to increase employment through quality education would almost certainly herald failure for the country.

Changes to Discretionary Grants

The NDP also highlights the significance of improving social benefits for all South Africans. This is closely aligned to the social benefits reflected in the Decent Work Agenda of the International Labour Organisation. It is linked even more specifically to South Africa’s Decent Work Country Programme, the four priorities of which are to:

    strengthen labour market governance
    promote employment
    strengthen and extend social protection coverage
    strengthen workplace responses to the HIV and Aids epidemic

To this end,  there have been some changes regarding the allocation of discretionary grants, which are intended to encourage stakeholders and employers to contribute towards achieving the objectives of the Human Resources Development Strategy (HRDSA), the National Skills Development Strategy III (NSDSIII) and the SETAs Sector Skills Plans (SSP). It is imperative that all SDFs are familiar with these changes and that they are utilised to their utmost in order to assist the neediest individuals in our society.

The SDF, who should ideally be someone in the human resources department where performance is managed, is best placed to integrate individual development plans and company objectives into an effective Workplace Skills Plan (WSP). An efficient and suitably experienced SDF can use the process of developing a WSP, which is a dynamic document, and an Annual Training Report (ATR), to maximise the company’s investment in training and development within the organisation. Investing in the skills development of its employees will, in turn, contribute favourably the company's bottom line.

As an SDF, you will be constantly challenged, as you have to understand the required processes, rules and regulations; be able to deal with clients at various levels; overcome language barriers;  and keep up to date with all the changes to legislation regarding skills development. You have to have a clear understanding of the SDA and the Skill Development Levies Act No 9 of 1999 (SDLA) and their recent amendments in order to develop the systems and processes required to plan and manage skills development within your organisation.

The Skills Development@Work Workshops

Outsourced Training Solutions, in collaboration with Delphine Ferreira, has developed a one-day workshop which is veritably Skills Development 101!

The workshop is an introduction to Skills Development from the SDF perspective and is aimed at skills development committees, employment equity committees, small business owners, and anyone else who is passionate about using education to improve the lives of those who have heretofore not had access to such resources.  This will in turn improve the company's production, and this will help advance the economy of our country.

In a practical and participative manner, the Skills Development@Work workshop covers

·         skills development structures and terminology

·         skills development levies and grants

·         workplace requirements and recordkeeping

·         workplace skills plans and annual training report submissions

·         discretionary and pivotal grants

·         the latest changes in legislation

For more information, contact Marisa Robinson on 084 294 9117 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.