ST Skills Development - June 2021 Edition

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JUNE 2021


Freeman Nomvalo

Dr Blade Nzimande

Sesi Nombulelo

Ishmail Mnisi

Ayanda Mafuleka

Siyabonga Madyibi


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ooking at South Africa’s unemployment statistics does not fill anyone’s heart with joy. The latest statistics released by Statistics South Africa, for the last quarter of 2020, put the official unemployment rate at 32.5 per cent, up slightly from the previous quarter. But everybody knows that the figure is much higher. Among the youth, the statistics are quite frightening. More than 63 per cent of young people who are eligible to work, cannot find work. It is against this background that skills development becomes more important. Corporate South Africa needs to be more proactive about investing in and developing the skills needed in their sector. We cannot expect government to take sole responsibility to improve the skills of South Africa’s youth, just as we cannot expect government alone to take responsibility to create more jobs. Partnerships are needed and there appears to be some attempt by formal business organisations to join hands with government to make this possible. A better skilled population will benefit everyone: government, business and the consumer. In this issue of Skills Development, we look at some of the new areas where there has been significant job creation and we ask what is being done about improving skills development in areas such as the green economy, the renewable energy sector, the fourth industrial revolution, and the like. I hope you enjoy the read and find inspiration to contribute to upskilling our population.



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PIcasso Headline, a proud division of Arena Holdings, Hill on Empire, 16 Empire Road (cnr Hillside Road), Parktown, Johannesburg, 2193 PO Box 12500, Mill Street, Cape Town, 8010

ENVIRONMENT Green thinking is about finding the opportunity to use skills to contribute to creating a circular economy and a sustainable future


FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION This new era requires critical technical skills that combine theory and practical


FINANCIAL SERVICES Career opportunities and advancement for black professionals continue to lag, but the outlook is positive


EDUCATION Careers in high demand require specific skills, which should inform the content of future training programmes


THOUGHT LEADERSHIP The Southern African Institute of Welding weighs in on the urgent need for flexible, student-centric training

Ryland Fisher, EDITOR


PARTNERSHIPS Many organisations combine their expertise, funding and knowledge to create training programmes that address skill shortages. We look at a few of the successful partnerships


ENERGY What employment opportunities exist in the local renewable energy sector?


LOCAL CONTENT Training in standards, safety and legislation is important for local producers wanting to enter the global export market

41 EDITORIAL Editor: Ryland Fisher Content Manager: Raina Julies Contributors: Trevor Crighton, Delia du Toit, James Francis, Levi Letsoko, Denise Mhlanga, Puseletso Mompei, Rodney Weidemann Copy Editor: Brenda Bryden Content Co-ordinator: Vanessa Payne Digital Editor: Stacey Visser DESIGN Head of Design: Jayne Macé-Ferguson Senior Design: Mfundo Archie Ndzo Advert Designer: Bulelwa Sotashe Cover Images: Supplied SALES Project Manager: Jerome van der Merwe +27 21 469 2485 I +27 820 668 1496 Sales: Natasha Hendricks, Corne Louw, Frank Simons, Yoliswa Stivin PRODUCTION Production Editor: Shamiela Brenner Advertising Co-ordinator: Johan Labuschagne Subscriptions and Distribution: Fatima Dramat Printing: Novus Print MANAGEMENT Management Accountant: Deidre Musha Business Manager: Lodewyk van der Walt General Manager, Magazines: Jocelyne Bayer

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN To speed up progress in meeting the 2030 skills goals, technical and vocational training must be updated and institutions need to build greater capacity to respond to crises


FUNDING The NSF targets funding to institutions offering technical skills programmes, but is now expanding its mandate to include emerging entrepreneurs and agricultural colleges


COPYRIGHT: No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for unsolicited material. Skills Development is published by Picasso Headline. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Picasso Headline. All advertisements/advertorials have been paid for and therefore do not carry any endorsement by the publisher.


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GREEN THINKING FOR A GREEN FUTURE “Green jobs” and a “green economy” sound like they are extreme and can be misleading, but they play a vital role in helping to make economies and communities more sustainable, reports TREVOR CRIGHTON


hen talking about green jobs, the “green” should be placed in inverted commas, says Dr Nicola Jenkin of Pinpoint Sustainability. Why? “Because although ‘green’ comes with stereotypes of a conservation or renewable energy focus, it’s important that we start to consider that all jobs can have a green element if we are to build a sustainable, circular economy that benefits everyone,” she says. “A green job doesn’t mean you have to work in a particular field, but rather that you have an understanding of how your role could incorporate the green economy or how your skills could be brought to bear in furthering green causes. “A ‘green economy’ isn’t one that centres on killing off the internal combustion engine and going vegan, but rather about creating a society and economy that is just and decent. A green economy creates sustainable livelihoods and is environmentally and socially beneficial, and it creates paid permanent jobs in new industries or existing ones that have become more sustainable,” says Jenkin. “It’s a shift away from nonrenewable activities and towards understanding how the system can work better.” Jenkin says that this economy needs more people across the board – lawyers with an understanding of green legislation, engineers looking at new technologies for construction, people looking at ways to reduce waste or design new products that have less of an environmental impact, teachers who can educate the next generation in new ways of thinking about sustainability, leaders to institute strategic insight, planning and risk mitigation, and more.

Martin Rohleder

Dr Nicola Jenkin

GREEN SKILLS, GREEN TECHNOLOGY “We need to look at ‘green thinking’ as a job skill, across the board,” says Jenkin. “Understanding how our jobs, skills and capabilities contribute to the creation of a circular economy can help us transition to a greener future.” She says that while many people see the transition to a greener economy as a “job loss story”, the opposite is true. “It’s about reskilling, not losing jobs. The green economy is opening up opportunities for workers to apply their skills to new areas – such as coal miners transitioning to solar panel technicians – and there’s plenty of scope to move along with the new technology.”

The Atlantis Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) is a zone in the Atlantis industrial area to the north of Cape Town dedicated to the manufacturing and provision of services in the green technology space. It also undertakes training in “Greentech”, particularly among the youth, where the focus is on training in water treatment, waste management and renewable energy. Ursula Wellmann, ASEZ Community, Skills and Enterprise Development Project specialist, says that the majority of courses run through the ASEZ are fully accredited and recognised by both the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO). The ASEZ water treatment programme gives participants the technical and theoretical skills needed to work in a water treatment facility. Similarly, waste management training provides the participants with technical capabilities to work at a waste management facility. The training of renewable energy workshop assistants includes the basics of equipment use and renewable energy and electricity, combined with practical training – mounting of solar PV systems on various roofs. “The courses are designed to address the skills gaps and any demands that investors might have, based on various studies over the recent years. Accordingly, the courses focus on green skills development and technical training. Leveraging partnerships and the collaborative efforts of various levels of government in support of the same aim, skills and enterprise development in Atlantis has required innovative approaches,” concludes Jenkin.



WORKING WASTE “Working with new green technology on the African continent can raise questions about available skillsets to operate the system successfully and long-term. When installing a Waste Transformer – a product that converts organic waste streams into energy and transforms other waste into new products – on-the-job training in operating the system will be given to the local operator and the collection staff. Our Business in a Box programme provides local entrepreneur access to training, legal advice and support to successfully run their transformer,” says Martin Rohleder, sales director: The Waste Transformers.

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Investment, integration and collaboration will boost Atlantis’ local economic development and uplift the community.


he Atlantis Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) along the Cape Province’s West Coast, was established in 2019 to capitalise on the province’s existing renewable energy and green technology sector and to draw on the area’s long manufacturing past and its abundance of technical skills within the local community. This economic zone aims to attract investment to boost and grow the regional economy and unlock further Greentech development as well as employment and skills development and transfer. Managed by the Atlantis Special Economic Zone Company (ASEZ Co), ASEZ is passionate about finding sustainable solutions, uplifting the community and providing skills training. It seeks to equip the local community with skills and capabilities that are in demand, ensuring that investors establishing in the area are met with readily available skills and have no need to seek these skills elsewhere.


The past 10 to 15 years have seen industries in Atlantis, such as textiles and fabrics and heavy metal manufacturing decline. However, recent years have brought about a resurgence in aluminium fabrication, which can be linked to other Greentech products ASEZ Co aims to fill positions in this sector from the local community through its skills development programmes.

FOCUS ON SOCIAL INCLUSION AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT ASEZ is supported by local, provincial and national government partners – City of Cape Town, Western Cape Government and the

Department of Trade Industry and Competition – and leverages these partnerships to contribute to its overall skills development wand community involvement initiatives. Social inclusion is one of the cornerstones of the green economy, accordingly, contained in the definition by the United Nations Environment Programme. This element is at the heart of the ASEZ Co’s work in community integration. A dedicated enterprise development team grows relationships and drives community development programmes that translate into genuine benefits. It does this by harnessing local insights and findings from various skills audits and reports, then crafting solutions that address the gaps and improve existing programmes, all aimed at providing support to both the local communities and the businesses operating in this area. The investment into community initiatives is also aligned to many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), collectively aiming to provide a more sustainable future for Atlantis. Modern investors often consider such factors when making decisions about investment locations. The need for businesses to benefit the communities and families they impact, not just from a product and consumer perspective, but from a placemaking perspective, is at the heart of the “shared value” concept. The work in skills development

Efforts to grow the availability of local skilled labour for green economy employers have been prioritised along with equipping local small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) to render services for future Greentech investors.


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PRINCIPLES OF THE ATLANTIS COMMUNITY, SKILLS AND ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME 1. Enable and equip the local community and its businesses. 2. Identify skills required for investors, in turn, identifying opportunities for local small, medium and micro enterprises to enter supply chains. 3. Support the green economy’s overall development through increased knowledge and understanding of Greentech for businesses and community members alike.

Atlantis youth to become waste management and water treatment practitioners and resulted in a community-led project to tackle waste and litter in the area. Dedicated efforts to support and upskill Atlantis youth with industry-relevant skills remain a priority. This is done through various initiatives, including the IkamvaYouth multi-year tutoring programme – successfully delivered SKILLS TRAINING FOR A GREEN ECONOMY since 2016 – and the Atlantis Renewable Since 2018, efforts to grow the availability Energy Challenge, to name a few. of local skilled labour for green economy The IkamvaYouth annual tutoring programme employers have been prioritised, together centres on tutoring. Volunteer tutors support with equipping local small, medium and learners in small groups to ensure that they micro enterprises to render services for understand their schoolwork. The programme future Greentech investors. The enterprise also assists Grade 12 learners to apply for development team focuses on driving the post-school opportunities (a learn-by-doing methodology, minimum of three). This way, allowing for quick, they are enrolled enrol in tertiary course-correcting responses institutions or learnerships or and actions, should they have secured jobs for when be necessary. Annual they finish school. Over the updates together with years, the programme has had further skills provide its fair share of operational insights into the process. challenges including impacts This has led to a broadened Ursula Wellmann, from crime and gangsterism scope of skills development ASEZ Community, and transport difficulties for priorities, now including Skills and Enterprise Development the tutors, who need to travel development programmes Project specialist long distances between the from early childhood through universities from where they to school-leaving age, to are recruited and Atlantis. The IkamvaYouth empower the youth with the expertise to peer-to-peer learning model has been adapted access the job opportunities coming out of the to accommodate sessions on Saturdays only, ASEZ from the Atlantis, as well as creating a with the branch team handling all support strong pipeline of Greentech skills. in the week. Despite these and the great Among these programmes are project operational challenges of shifting the whole management training to develop local support function online last year because expertise in project implementation, and waste of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 matric management training – which has empowered


directly addresses SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth, SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, SDG 11 – Make cities safe and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable while actively encouraging participation in the economy and accessing employment opportunities.

cohort passed their Grade 12 exams with a 98 per cent pass rate. Launched in 2016, the Atlantis Renewable Energy Challenge has stood the test of time and grown over the years. This annual competition originally attracted 20 high school learners to participate in the inaugural challenge. Since then, the science, technology, engineering and mathematics focused competition has encouraged high school and primary school learners alike to grapple with the topic of renewable energy. The 2019 competition added an art element to the contest, getting learners to share their visions of how renewable energy could impact the Atlantis community. The year saw a record number of participants, with 380 learners taking part. As much as this programme allows learners to engage with renewable energy in a fun way, it is aligned to the school curriculum Seeing the outputs driven by the learners’ enthusiasm and creativity fills one with hope. Hope not only for a better future for the Atlantis community, but a story of hope for South Africa’s youth, seeing opportunities in the green economy and leveraging this to forge future-proof careers for themselves, while ensuring we grow sustainably.

➔ Scan this QR code to go directly to the company website.

For more information: 021 573 7200


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ARE WE READY FOR THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION? It is more important than ever before to skill the youth in 4IR technologies, and to reskill those whose talents are becoming redundant. By RODNEY WEIDEMANN



he fourth industrial revolution (4IR) represents a new era of innovation in technology and disruptive technologies that are already significantly impacting how we work, live, play and govern. The 4IR encompasses technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, cloud computing and the internet of things (IoT), which are combined in various forms to provide us with interconnected digital devices, intelligent robots and autonomous vehicles, among others. The real question is whether or not SA has adequate skills for this, and if not, how the country aims to train and upskill its people in 4IR capabilities. Gerhard de Beer, managing executive at training organisation Mecer Inter-Ed, says the company believes that most organisations’ preparedness for the 4IR is grossly understated. “When one looks outside of the private business sector, much more can still be done, particularly at school level where government needs to ensure that children are exposed to digital technology at as early an age as possible,” he says. “Outside the school arena, and in conjunction with the government’s National Skills Development Plan, many private sector training programmes – with a plethora of content that maps to all the popular 4IR topics – are available.” Most reputable IT training companies can provide a customised solution to suit almost every training need, he continues. The Media, Information and Communications SETA is busy updating its registered qualifications to include skills programmes and learnerships that address these sought-after skills. “I think the most important factor to consider when choosing a training partner is to make

sure of its official learning partner status. IT training companies need to be accredited by the various IT houses whose courses they offer,” de Beer adds.

LINKING THEORY WITH PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE While there are many students who do degrees at university, there is seldom an effective bridge between this theory and the actual workplace, says Christian Visser, technical lead at training provider Torque IT. “It is important to be able to link what you learn in class to the actual workplace, which enables learners to move beyond simple theory. Any youngster learning 4IR skills must also be taught Gerhard de Beer entrepreneurial abilities – because high unemployment in SA means that the ability to leverage these skills to start your own business will be critical,” he says. “To get the best out of 4IR skills training, the country must make sure that initiatives combine training with workplace experience – this is something the private sector is well aware of – and greater efforts are made to ensure that there is always an element of workplace exposure.” Any initiatives SA can put in place to train the youth in 4IR skills will be vital, adds Visser, as the country needs to be in a position to benefit from international opportunities that may present themselves. “However, without these skills, we will be unable to grasp these opportunities,” he explains.

“The advantage of training youngsters in 4IR skills is that they learn fast and, being from the digital generation, already have an almost instinctive grasp of many of the technologies. However, we must remember that providing skills to the youth is only one facet of this: we must also ensure that experienced individuals whose skills are becoming redundant are reskilled with relevant digital training. “Perhaps most crucially, training, upskilling and reskilling in 4IR technologies must be ongoing. No matter where you begin your learning journey, once started, it never ends. The current speed of technology evolution means that to keep pace with change, you need to constantly focus on learning and developing new skills,” concludes Visser.

THE MOST IMPORTANT 4IR SKILLS Torque IT’s Christian Visser suggests the following as crucial skills for the future: • Coding • AI • Robotics • Machine learning and automation • Cloud engineering • Data science engineering • IoT • Cybersecurity • Drone piloting • 3D printing • Data analysis • Software and application development


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South Africa needs to change its thinking around critical skills, writes PRASHEEN MAHARAJ, CEO Sandock Austral


or too long the narrative has centred almost exclusively around skills development rather than the preservation and nurturing of existing critical skills in addition to the creation of new skills and a talent pool. The unfortunate outcome is the enrichment of skills development service providers with little to no new skills or capability being made available to the national resource pool. This has resulted in South Africa quickly losing capability and capacity in key areas such as energy, marine, defence, aerospace and healthcare among others, forcing us to rely on the importation of critical skills at a time when the country is experiencing an unemployment crisis. After democracy, affirmative action saw the displacement of white skills by black skills. In recent years we have seen some reversals of this with the narrative being created in some quarters about the side lining of Black Excellence. As a result, we find critical and desperately required skills fragmented across our country and, to some extent, across the globe. This disjointed nature of South African skills means that they are no longer available to the national resource pool in an efficient manner although they exist. The “lost” critical skills are no longer available to train, develop and mentor new graduates from tertiary institutions, further weakening the capability and capacity of the




country to deliver on critical projects both locally and for potential export. If South Africa has any hope of delivering basic services to its people efficiently and cost-effectively as well as creating jobs through an export-driven industrialisation strategy, it is imperative that we take the issue of skills preservation and nurturing as seriously as we do skills development.

THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY Fortunately, with the rapid advancements in technology, one can quickly develop a mobilisation platform to build a national resource pool and talent network. A mobilisation platform enabled by technology will move people to work together to accomplish something beyond the capabilities of any individual participant. Tied to a mobilisation platform is a learning platform that facilitates learning by bringing participants together to share insights, skills and experience over time. Learning platforms tend to foster deep, trust-based relationships as participants have the opportunity to realise more potential by working together. The recent failures of some state-owned enterprises have resulted in many employees not being paid in full for up to 18 months. Corporate failures like Steinhoff and disinvestments or scaling down of investments have also caused many job losses.

It is imperative that we take the issue of skills preservation and nurturing as seriously as we do skills development.

The COVID-19 crisis has created a huge amount of economic upheaval and uncertainty resulting in millions of people losing their jobs. Therefore, security of employment is no longer guaranteed, both in South Africa and around the world, resulting in a shift towards self-employment. Despite the high job demands, business owners also have high job control and autonomy over their tasks. This independent way of working gives rise to “procedural utility,” that is, the enjoyment of the process as well as the outcome of working while avoiding hierarchy and subordination. This unique combination of high job demands and high job control gives rise to a state when work leads to self-actualisation, mastery, new skill development and, ultimately, greater wellbeing. Job control completely cushions the stress aspects of self-employment. Sandock Austral, a technology and engineering company participating in the marine, defence, aerospace and energy sectors, has taken up the struggle of unemployment and the fragmented national resources pool through the formation of the Sandock Austral Forum for Entrepreneurs (SAFE). The aim is to create a technology-enabled mobilisation and learning platform for selfemployed and unemployed critical engineering, technology and other relevant skills to collaborate and work together to deliver on projects in the marine, defence, aerospace and energy sectors.

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For more information:


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he Space to grow: new models of business support – Accelerators, Incubators and Accountants report examines how alternative business support models, such as accelerators and incubators, are being used to allow more small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups to achieve rapid growth and support their post-COVID-19 recovery. It also highlights the growing importance of small business support ecosystems. The report is based on several case studies from around the world and provides practical insight to SMEs and accountants looking to interact with these support models.

WHAT ARE ACCELERATORS AND INCUBATORS? There is no hard and fast definition of incubators and accelerators, but simply put, they are support mechanisms to help businesses grow. Incubators: support business creation and development. They are typically physical spaces that provide additional services such as training and mentoring for entrepreneurs, access to networks and, sometimes, specialist equipment or facilities such as laboratories. They can be nonprofit institutions set up by universities, governments, agencies or donors, or commercial enterprises set up by private sector companies and investor groups. Accelerators: focus on growth and have historically put greater emphasis on funding, although elements such as networking, mentoring and market access are increasingly seen as equally important. A key feature is that they offer highly selective and time-limited programmes. Both accelerators and incubators are providing post-COVID-19 recovery support that is important for mature businesses looking to reimagine themselves. Some incubators and accelerators are highly targeted on a particular social impact – social inclusion, sustainability or other social benefits. But any incubator will be


Enabling growth

Early-stage start-up support

Access to finance


External finance function


Technology evangelists

Post-COVID recovery

This figure depicts some key points of synergy between accountants, accelerators and incubators.

looking to set its entrepreneurs on a path that is financially and socially responsible, pursuing not just growth but sustainability. The ecosystem mentality may have wider applications in promoting business resilience and sustainability more generally. Impact incubators demonstrate how the support model can be fine-tuned to produce social outcomes. COVID-19 has put extreme pressure on smaller businesses, many of which have had to close their doors. Others have experienced extremely rapid growth. Many support networks have found their members and alumni looking to them for support, not to grow, but to survive. Some incubators and accelerators have activated past and present members to work together to find innovative solutions to a range of issues thrown up by the crisis.

INCUBATORS, ACCELERATORS AND ACCOUNTANTS: KEY POINTS OF SYNERGY Accountants can play a vital role in the new business support infrastructure as well as complement it. Start-ups and growth businesses need sound financial management and data as they start and grow their businesses. Accountants and small- and medium-sized practices (SMPs) can provide far more than mere compliance – they can become growth partners and grow with their clients. Working with the accelerators and incubators might also mean access to clients or the introduction of their clients to the right incubators or accelerators.

SMPs in particular can adopt some of the techniques and approaches used by accelerators and incubators and become “enterprise growth hubs”. Some of the progressive practitioners are combining their expertise and already acting as accelerators and incubators for groups of high-growth businesses and are supporting those businesses seeking recovery or transformation post-COVID-19.

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ABOUT ACCA ACCA is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants – a thriving global community of 227 000 members and 544 000 future members based in 176 countries – upholding the highest professional and ethical values.

➔ Scan this QR to go directly to the ACCA website -


How accountants can leverage incubator and accelerator programmes to boost sustainability and growth for start-ups and SMEs


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BY THE NUMBERS Although there are there are many more black accountants in South Africa today than ever before, the industry still has a way to go when it comes to transformation, writes DELIA DU TOIT



he first black chartered accountant in South Africa, Wiseman Lumkile Nkuhlu, qualified in 1976 and became president of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) in 1998. Today, the picture in the financial services sector, and the myriad challenges he faced, looks very different. Estimations indicate that black Africans occupy 42 per cent of jobs in the sector, according to the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) for the Finance, Accounting, Management Consulting and Other Financial Services sector (FASSET). “The black demographic (black African, coloured and Indian) occupies 63 per cent of jobs in the sector, while the white demographic occupies 35 per cent. Not only has the number of black people employed in the sector vastly increased, but we’ve also seen empowerment in top occupational categories, leadership and management – 2020 numbers show that most employees in the finance and accountancy sector are women (56 per cent) and that women occupy 48 per cent of managerial positions,” says Ayanda Mafuleka, CEO.


A Thomson Reuters Institute investigation in 2020 shows that South Africa is not the only country facing transformation issues in the sector. Black professionals in the tax and accounting field in the United States face slow career advancement. One of the reasons cited was the need for cultural transformation to remove the “too-prevalent bias that African-Americans aren’t as qualified or capable as their white counterparts”. Source: posts/tax-and-accounting/black-cpasearl-fagan/

But there is still a long way to go. When it comes to the accountancy profession alone, the numbers differ significantly. Of the 50 996 accountants registered with Saica, only 7 740 are black and only 19 979 are women. “Transformation of the sector is taking longer than expected because it takes at least six years to train an accountant,” says Mafuleka. “Saica makes provision for trainee membership, and at the end of 2020, 94 per cent of its trainees were black and 67 per cent were female.” In May this year, Saica commissioned a comprehensive, independent study to understand why the pass rate for African candidates in the industry is decreasing

– leaving many stuck in the trainee phase of their career for longer than expected. “We need to understand the root cause of this problem, despite the numerous initiatives in this regard. If necessary, we will review the full value chain of the qualification process. We continue to implement initiatives to support candidates to close the inequality gap and ensure that no prospective chartered accountant (CA)(SA) is left behind,” says Saica chief executive Freeman Nomvalo.

Freeman Nomvalo

CHANGING FACE To combat such challenges, FASSET and several other institutions have developed initiatives to fast-track transformation in the sector – the Thuthuka bursary fund for prospective accountants is one of the better known. Some of FASSET’s initiatives include a learnership programme for chartered accountant trainees, a bursary scheme for “missing middle” students that narrowly surpass NSFAS funding criteria, academic and career support, and funding for CTA qualifications. FASSET also pays R20 000 to NSFAS for each year that a trainee remains in their learnership. This relieves trainee accountants of their NSFAS debt while completing their articles. One of FASSET’s most popular initiatives, according to Mafuleka, is an employer grant scheme that incentivises employers in the sector to implement skills development initiatives. “It allows large and medium levy-paying members to claim back a portion of their contributions. Small- and non-levy-paying members also have access to grants.” The sector is still grappling with transformational issues, she says, but the tide is slowly turning. “The black demographic together occupies only 48 per cent of managerial positions, 58 per cent of professional and 60 per cent of technical positions in the industry – and African black people occupy the majority of lower-level occupations. But despite the challenges, there has been a seven per cent increase in equity numbers across the finance and accounting sector this past year. This presents a positive outlook in terms of transformation and gender equity.”


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BUSINESS AND SOCIETAL FUTURE FITNESS ENGRAINED IN omnia’s SKILLS DEVELOPMENT Omnia is deeply invested in facilitating quality vocational, technical and management learning to ensure that individuals and businesses are future-fit

SUCCESS STORIES Nthati Kutoane seized an opportunity to pursue a skill through an apprenticeship with Omnia Fertilizer and has broken barriers in the process. One of few women in the programme, she earned a Red Seal qualification, achieving her dream of becoming an electrician. Employees can also access bursaries to pursue part-time studies at recognised institutions. Their managers often play a supporting role in this process, as was the case for Jabulani Dlamini, BME Dryden

The world is progressing at an unprecedented rate and keeping pace to remain agile and relevant is imperative. Businesses that fail to envisage and invest in skills required for future fitness do so at their peril. 16

Mechanical Artisan Fitter, whose manager motivated him to be awarded a BME bursary to complete his studies with Regent Business School. Meaningful learning and development must happen at every touchpoint. For this reason, safety and security; compliance and governance; customer service; and financial, mental and physical wellness training must also be prioritised. Understanding that people have different ways and paces of learning, a blend of in-person and virtual training is offered, with written/video content available for consumption at employees’ convenience. This helps make the learning process less overwhelming and employees more receptive to participation. Vincent Joseph, a junior financial accountant at Omnia’s Protea Chemicals division, successfully leveraged learning opportunities at Omnia. Starting as a forklift driver, he has progressed to his current role and aspires to be a fully-fledged accountant when he completes his BCom degree. The world is progressing at an unprecedented rate and keeping pace to remain agile and relevant is imperative. Businesses that fail to envisage and invest in skills required for future fitness do so at their peril.

➔ Scan this QR code to go directly to the company website.

For more information: +27 11 709 8888



reparing employees for a successful and sustainable career requires a combination of formal and informal training and skills development opportunities. This combination will provide them with a solid foundation, build self-sufficiency and provide the ability to adjust to changing business environments. On-the-job training and mentoring are vital aspects of skills development. Specific to the industries Omnia engages in, access to quality vocational, technical, management and leadership is pivotal. In South Africa alone, through Omnia’s collaboration with an educational institution, 50 junior to senior management employees have access to a rigorous, comprehensive supervisory learnership programme.

Omnia focuses heavily on softer skills such as creative problem-solving, emotional intelligence, decisive judgment and effective project management and negotiation. In addition, the business encourages curiosity and contrasting ideas, which challenge teams and elevate the quality of thinking, products, services, and partnerships. The business has invested in establishing accredited technical training centres in South Africa, which aim to convert skills (sometimes informal) into recognised competencies. Omnia is also deeply invested in critical apprenticeships, such as boiler-making and welding) and learnerships that help employees achieve qualifications (such as NQF levels in South Africa). Several unemployed individuals continue to benefit from this access, with some going on to secure employment within the business.


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TRAINING MUST FOCUS ON HIGH DEMAND OCCUPATIONS Of the 345 skills identified as being in high demand, the majority are in occupations in the digital and IT field. To address the skills shortages, education experts must plan targeted training and development programmes. By DENISE MHLANGA



he 345 skills in high demand are for jobs in the digital economy, energy, infrastructure development arena and occupations like data scientists, web developers, electrical engineers, toolmakers, crop produce analysts and agricultural scientists, among others. These employment opportunities were identified in the 2020 List of Occupations in High Demand (OIHD) produced for the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). The OIHD list aims to identify skills shortages in those jobs showing strong employment growth and use the information to inform planning processes in the postschool education and training system, particularly enrolment planning, decision-making on the prioritisation of resource allocations, qualifications development and career information and advice. “New occupations expected to emerge as a result of innovation and technological advancement are also included in this list,” says Ishmael Mnisi, DHET spokesperson. Additionally, public and private organisations, professional bodies, trade unions and research organisations use the OIHD list to support the provisioning of their education and training programmes.

The Education, Training and Development Practices Sector Education and Training Authority (ETDP SETA) says that the strong demand is due to a shortage of specialised skills. “It could mean that there are limited institutions offering relevant qualifications for these occupations, or the occupation is new and there are no qualifications available to address it in the sector,” says ETDP SETA CEO Sesi Nombulelo Nxesi. The ETDP SETA is required to develop such qualifications in partnership with the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations, or create and support a platform for other stakeholders to develop these qualifications. Nxesi says the organisation provided research input to the 2020 OIHD publication through its sector skills plan process, which used the labour market information received from the workplace skills plan and annual training reports submitted by its constituent employers in the education, training and development sector. Deputy director-general: Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) at the DHET, Sam Zungu, says that TVET colleges conduct strategic planning annually under the guidance of the DHET. “As part of enrolment planning in this process, colleges are required to engage with the OIHD list and incorporate it into their provision in partnership with employers, SETAs and other stakeholders to make this work,” says Zungu. Although the targets differ for various colleges, they are all mainly driven by the facilities available, especially for practical training. For this reason, the DHET will not prescribe the numbers, but will drive a comprehensive agenda that will guide colleges towards planning around the occupations in high demand. ›


The OIHD list promotes enrolment planning that is aligned to demand-side data and also emphasises differentiation in terms of the programmes offered by the education and training institutions, according to the DHET.

“Not all colleges are expected to offer skills training for all occupations in demand.” – Ishmail Mnisi

Sesi Nombulelo


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SETA-SPECIFIC INTERVENTIONS The ETDP SETA has interventions like its student internship programmes, which last for 18 months. The SETA pays the student a

AGCO Africa is driving a skills development initiative under the banner of advancement in agriculture.



ith jobs, such as crop produce analysts and agricultural scientists, identified as among the 345 occupations in high demand, and the country’s high unemployment rates, there is a compelling case for the provision of quality education and hands-on training in all areas of agriculture. By developing the various skills needed for a career in agribusiness, learners will be able to avail themselves of agribusiness opportunities to generate sustainable incomes, build sustainable economies and achieve food security, says Dr Dominik Reus, managing director, AGCO Corporation, Africa. “Almost two-thirds of the world’s uncultivated arable land is in Africa,


stipend and monitors them in the workplace, explains Nxesi. It also provides bursaries, awarded through partnerships with key stakeholders in the education, training and development sector, to students enrolled in scarce skills programmes such as mathematics, science, technology, accounting, and economics, as well as to students studying Early Childhood Development and education programmes. “To ensure that high schools in the rural areas and township communities prepare students for these high-demand careers, the ETDP SETA partners with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to roll out career guidance initiatives.”

She adds that the EDTP SETA also initiated the Matric Rewrite programme to assist students in rural and townships schools to complete Grade 12. It was eventually handed over to the DBE.

so the continent has great potential to feed itself and the global population. AGCO wants to empower Africans who have a passion for the agricultural sector, particularly technical and sales representatives, who can serve as trusted partners to African farmers. To this end, AGCO Corporation launched the AGCO Agriculture Foundation (AAF) in 2018 with one goal in mind: ending hunger globally. As the world’s nutritional demands change, the AAF is committed to making an impact locally and globally,” explains Reus. The AAF adopts a holistic approach to food security and sustainable agriculture development to attract future agricultural enthusiasts and support marginalised farmers. It aims to build much-needed agricultural infrastructure to meet increasing nutrition needs and ensure food security as well as equipping those interested in a career in agriculture with the necessary skills to enable them to become financially self-sufficient.

virtual lectures (theory), field training (practical) and workplace experience. The quality agrobusiness-industry training aims to empower participants with the technical and sales skills, knowledge, training and opportunities needed to create a robust agribusiness sector for Africa. This will contribute to Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 of the United Nations: Goal 1 – No Poverty, Goal 2 – Zero Hunger, Goal 4 – Quality Education, Goal 5 – Gender Equality and Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth. The programme is facilitated through the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), together with Harper Adams University in the UK, while AGCO South Africa and the Cerealis Technology Institute in South Africa provide technical expertise and support. “We are confident that once the participants have completed the course, they will be able to contribute to the agricultural industry in a meaningful, sustainable and profitable manner,” says Metti Richenhagen, managing director, AGCO Africa Foundation. “We understand the importance of increasing the appeal of agriculture as a career choice for young students, diversifying our industry and empowering farmers to take ownership of Dr Dominik Reus their agriculture businesses.”

FOCUSED, QUALITY AGROBUSINESS TRAINING One of these programmes is a skills development initiative driven by AGCO Africa under the banner of “Advancement in Agricultural Education”. Fully funded by the AAF, the initial intake, commencing on 1 September 2021, for the Africa Agribusiness Qualification (AAQ) will comprise 20 participants. The AAQ is a 12-month, part-time accelerated programme targeting participants from across the continent. Activities will be hosted in South Africa and include

Ishmail Mnisi



“However, not all colleges are expected to offer skills training for all occupations in high demand. Local needs are taken into account during planning to deliver the suite of scarce skills and OIHD.” Mnisi encourages career development organisations to make use of the OIHD list. He further urges young people to visit the DHET career website ( for more information on occupations in high demand and the required skills.


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Through its unique development model, Rhiza Babuyile is helping to transform economically disadvantaged young people into economically productive, self-sufficient citizens


hiza Babuyile is a nonprofit organisation prides itself on developing young adults from disadvantaged communities who want to be economically independent. It achieves this by providing access to quality healthcare, skills, early childhood development and economic opportunities. Jacob Senoamadi, Rhiza Babuyile’s fundraising officer, speaks about the importance of developing township communities: “We are all about developing young people in township communities. Being born in a township community, I know what education can do, I know what having a small business can do, and what it means to have economically viable options available to you. These are the building blocks that Rhiza Babuyile offers to young people in township communities so that they can achieve economic independence.”





The organisation’s strategy is best visualised by the Rhiza Babuyile Cycle, which consists of four elements: develop, produce, reinvest and trade. Skills Development Programme co-ordinator Siyabonga Phakathi says: “The only way to solve unemployment is to have a skilled labour force. We need jobs, but before we get jobs, we need a skilled labour force, and to achieve that you need the right calibre of people. This

is where we as an organisation contribute by training beneficiaries.” Rhiza Babuyile develops the community through education and healthcare-related projects, which address the community’s direct needs. Where beneficiaries have access to quality education and healthcare, the organisation aims to give them access to the economy through production or employment opportunities. The crucial aspects of production are relevant training and small business development. The organisation’s training is aimed at providing young adults with marketable skills that will enable them to secure employment. Its small business development objective is for the creation and sustainability of viable township businesses. This leads to beneficiaries being able to trade their skills or products for an income. As self-sufficient community members the beneficiaries can now reinvest their income into their communities by procuring the goods and services they need from the community. It is this reinvestment that makes the organisation’s model sustainable and leads to the development of the community at large. The Early Childhood Development Programme upskills township teachers and principals in Diepsloot and Tembisa to transfer quality education to children by preparing them for primary school, the

foundation for becoming productive citizens. The organisation’s education curriculum trains teachers and principals to better manage their ECD centre’s curriculum. In addition, the organisation refurbishes township preschools to make them welcoming, safe and state-of-the-art centres that children and parents love and appreciate. Through its Skills Programme, Rhiza Babuyile offers IT (Level 3, 4 and 5), Fashion and Design and Agriculture courses for young people in Diepsloot and Orange Farm. The courses are facilitated by young people who have graduated from the organisation’s Skills Centre. They enhance the learners’ experience and education by sharing their experiences and knowledge.

BUILDING STRONGER, SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES WITH UNBUNTU The organisation’s work is reinforced by different partners and sponsors who share the same values, vision and mission of building stronger and sustainable communities with ubuntu, care, respect, integrity and accountability as selfless givers who believe in making an impact. Rhiza Babuyile believes in keeping its promise to those it serves: “Developing beneficiaries from economically disadvantaged communities into economically productive citizens.” The organisation calls upon sponsors to come on board.

➔ Scan this QR code to go directly to the company website.

For more information: 011 462 7431


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accompanied by physical or virtual sessions on Saturdays and other practical components and interactions, such as tutorials, which will require a physical presence.


WHY FLEXIBLE, STUDENT-CENTRIC TRAINING IS CRITICAL Executive director of the Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW) JOHN TARBOTON shares how the pandemic has influenced the organisation to relook its training programmes.



AIW is sometimes seen as having a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude and our courses are often considered unaffordable. As a result, we have taken a long hard look at how we operate and reimagine who we are and how we do things. We also have a dedicated student liaison officer who is an experienced SAIW staff member and can provide detailed information and advice on career choices and how students can attain their goals and aspirations through the upskilling that we offer. Looking at the practicalities of training amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant financial fallout, the SAIW management team visited a substantial number of its members

and clients in the first three months of this year. During these meetings, it became clear that many of its fabricator members have reduced their number of employees, and it has therefore become exceedingly difficult to release an employee to attend a course. Some students have even had to request refunds for courses that they had paid for because they were denied time off from work. This is purely because employers have retrenched staff and cannot afford to give students extensive time off work, even if the course is funded by the employee. So there is a demand for after-hours virtual courses

What training institutions must realise is that we must work hand in hand with industry so that collectively we provide students with the skills our crippling economy needs right now. How this translates into practicality is that training institutions should allow more flexibility when it comes to training schedules. Our new modular approach, for instance, will give employers the flexibility to train people when their workload allows. A course could be completed over, say, two years. Modules will typically be one week and after each module, a class test will be written, and the module can be ‘banked’. The student can then complete the next module when finances or workloads allow. Previously, smaller modules were also often presented at a fabricator’s facilities on a particular topic relevant to their needs. Ultimately, all the courses will be modularised to provide this flexibility and to allow customisation of courses where desirable. A student-centric, flexible approach has also been applied to the payment of courses where SAIW now offers long-term payment options via the online revolving credit service Mobicred.

VIRTUAL LEARNING Tarboton says that another COVID-19 related innovation that needs to be implemented across all training institutions is virtual learning, where the content allows. Virtual training has a host of added benefits for John Tarboton the student – it reduces travel, accommodation and related costs, particularly for those from out of town. This would also allow employees to be at work and attend online courses for those days that the instruction is all theory.


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Trained and skilled artisans are often the unseen heroes of many organisations. They are the cogs in the wheels and engines that keep companies on the road



ithout the skills of artisans, many companies would not be able to keep their vehicles operational. Therefore, their contribution to the bottom line is immense. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of skilled artisans in the automotive industry with fewer people entering the profession than is needed. To address this, the Automobile Association of South Africa NPC (AA) launched its Technical College, which was awarded training provider accreditation on 21 June 2006 to facilitate full learnership qualifications of autotronics and, vehicle maintenance as well as apprentice training in the trades of automotive electrician, automotive engine fitter, diesel fitter, diesel fuel injection technician, diesel mechanic and motor mechanic (accreditation number: 17-QA/ACC/0023/06). “Skilled artisans play a crucial role in any company as they reduce downtime and maintenance costs for businesses with big fleets. And, they are employable across a wide variety of industries from mining and agriculture to construction and transport. Many government departments also heavily rely on automotive artisans to keep their vehicles on the road,” says Werner Wandrey,

national technical training manager at the AA Technical College (AATC). Since its inception, around 1 200 students a year have passed through the AATC’s learning centre, qualifying in a range of different disciplines. “We train people to become automotive electricians, diesel mechanics, diesel fuel injection technicians, motor mechanics (petrol), diesel fitters and automotive engine fitters. When these students leave us, they go with a nationally accepted and useful qualification, making them a scarce resource in a competitive economy,” says Wandrey. There are two main streams of learning offered at the AATC: Competency-based Modular Training (CBMT) and learnerships that are NQF aligned. There are different courses within each of these streams. “There are huge benefits for companies sending staff on these courses. The error ratio is reduced and the quality of work of the artisans who have been through our doors is markedly improved. There is great value in people attending these courses – not only for themselves personally, but also for the companies who send them to us,” explains Wandrey.

“Skilled artisans play a crucial role in any company as they reduce downtime and maintenance costs for businesses with big fleets. And, they are employable across a wide variety of industries from mining and agriculture to construction and transport.” – Werner Wandrey

Importantly, the AATC is an accredited training facility and trade test centre. Accreditation has been awarded by the Department of Higher Education and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations. As such, AATC can provide training for companies no matter to which Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) skills levies are paid. Each of the courses offered at the college ranges from between 18 months and four years with the artisans then leaving with a formal qualification. “I think we understand the market extremely well and are producing quality artisans. After all, when they leave, they will say they were trained by the AATC, so we work hard to maintain the highest standards,” he says. And this hard work is paying off, judging by the quality of clients who send their learners to the AATC for training, among these are original equipment manufacturers, dealers, groups and even the small and medium enterprise aftermarket.

➔ Scan this QR code to go directly to the company website.

For more information: 086 133 3668


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A SMALL DIFFERENCE IS STILL A DIFFERENCE When looking at the current youth unemployment rate, there is a clear urgent need for a silver lining for today’s youth, says the Skills Development Corporation

The Tjeka Training Matters facility in Fisantekraal.

BUILDING CONSTRUCTION SKILLS A purpose-built training facility in the Western Cape aims to bolster skills development and produce a new generation of construction workers 28


he global construction industry is expected to grow by 5.2 per cent this year, according to data and analytics company GlobalData. If this is the case, then the industry will require expertise and skills to carry the workload and to keep the sector at its peak. Gawie Burger, Southern Region manager at Tjeka Training Matters, believes that training the youth is crucial for creating a new wave of skilled individuals and subsequently alleviating the skills shortage in the industry. “This can be achieved by providing quality training and development through leadership, skills programmes, apprenticeships and short courses.” It is for this reason that the company recently launched a new training facility in Fisantekraal. “This purpose-built training centre was constructed by Garden Cities using alternative building technologies such as the benex block, which is lightweight, thermally efficient and easy to use when building.

“We started offering some basic upskilling learnerships and qualifications, and now we’re certifying candidates at national qualifications framework (NQF) level. Above all, all our learnerships are governed by the necessary Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) – from office administration through to retail, finance and IT,” says Gibhard. “By expanding our offering across the different sectors, we’re able to connect with a variety of companies to help upskill and educate these youngsters in fields that best suit their interest.”

“The construction of the facility was successfully completed and has been occupied since February this year,” he explains. “The centre specialises in all the construction trades, namely, carpentry, plumbing, bricklaying, painting and plastering, tiling as well as civil-related trades that include roadworks, pipelaying, gabion construction and the erection of guardrail,” says Burger. Letitia van Rensburg, training officer at Master Builders’ Association for the Western Cape, adds that “the need for artisans and the improvement of the trade testing processes are one of the challenges the industry is facing in the region and the new training facility will assist in mitigating this.” The centre offers both short courses and full qualifications. “We are also busy registering at the Institute for Working at Heights as a provider for all the scaffolding erector, inspector, supervisor and fall rescue planner programmes,” says Burger.


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he unemployment rate under the expanded definition, which includes those who have given up on the hunt for a job, is now 43.2 per cent. Youth unemployment under the expanded definition is a staggering 74.7 per cent, which means that only one in four school-leavers who are 24 or younger have a job in South Africa, reports StatSA’s latest quarterly labour survey. This, coupled with South Africa’s current education failures, especially in computer literacy, is exacerbating the problem even further. At a rate of around 2 000 learners annually, albeit small, the Skills Development Corporation (SDC) is contributing to providing education and assistance for the improvement in the youth unemployment rate by about 0.0005 per cent nationally. “In the past three years, we have upskilled over 5 000 learners through various skills development programmes,” says Daniel Gibhard, CEO of SDC. “Of these learners, we have managed to place 12 per cent in employment or into other tertiary education opportunities, which, considering the marketplace and socioeconomic environment, is a significant achievement.

PA R T NERSHIP S The MTN SA Foundation recently handed over the multimedia centre to the Vhembe TVET College.



he MTN SA Foundation has opened a 20-seater innovative multimedia centre at the Vhembe TVET College in Matwarela Sibasa. The development, valued at R1.249-million, has 20 workstations adapted for deaf, blind and partially sighted students. The investment opens the door to quality learning and teaching for the most vulnerable of South Africans. “The MTN SA Foundation, through our various initiatives, aims to bring the power of technology and a connected life to those most in need by contributing to the national quality of teaching and learning. We are proud to launch our latest centre at the TVET College in Limpopo to ensure students are future-fit,” says Kusile Mtunzi-Hairwadzi, general manager of the MTN SA Foundation. “This is the second TVET college to receive a state-of-the-art multimedia centre to assist learners with their education. And our support does not stop here,” says Mtunzi-Hairwadzi.

MTN SA Foundation launches multimedia centre in Limpopo

The TVET college provides holistic courses that accommodate learners despite their physical and partially sighted limitations. The overarching programmes cater for the needs of skilled artisans, IT technicians, employees in the tourism and hospitality fields and training engineering-related studies identified by the Department of Higher Education and Training. “We decided to jump in and offer further specialised support for these programmes. The multimedia centre has been modified to provide computer-aligned zoom text and jaws software programmes for the partially sighted students and specialised software programme installations for deaf students,” says Mtunzi-Hairwadzi. “By focusing on education through a holistic and comprehensive ICT solution, we are committed to supporting government in uplifting the learning and teaching experiences in disadvantaged schools across the country”, she says.

WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE MULTIMEDIA CENTRE? MTN’s investment at Vhembe provides: • A fully refurbished lecture room • Twenty workstations each with keyboard and mouse • Interactive whiteboards with accessories (wand and pen) • Web camera HD high-end and stand • Instructor PC • One data projector • One multipurpose printer • Offline digitised educational content and interactive learning content • Antivirus protection • Office 365 • Air conditioner • Training on the equipment and digitalised content for a minimum of 10 staff members • 30GB data connectivity per month for 24 months



hrough the Be Entrepreneurial Programme initiated by JA South Africa (formerly Junior Achievement South Africa) and in partnership with Toyota South Africa, 104 learners from Masiqhakaze Secondary School in Thembisa are being introduced to experiential entrepreneurship, product development, advertising and business planning while simultaneously getting a head start on their economic and

management science studies. On completion of the programme, learners will acquire practical skills by setting up a fully functioning business. Learning the basics of entrepreneurship helps expose learners to an alternative career option. Bonga Khumalo, JA South Africa’s national programming co-ordinator, says: “Entrepreneurs solve problems and by empowering learners with the skills gained through our programmes, we are nurturing problem-solvers.”


JA South Africa has reached over 500 000 students in South Africa since 1979.


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THE SKILLS PROSPECTS FROM RENEWABLE ENERGY Is the green energy sector a dark horse for employment? JAMES FRANCIS finds out



he local renewable energy sector is growing fast, making South Africa a top investment destination for green energy projects. It is tempting to assume this primes the sector as a major job creator, but is that the case? What are the employment possibilities from green energy, and where should we look to find those new jobs? This question is tricky to answer. According to Nato Oosthuizen, audit partner: Renewable Energy at BDO South Africa, investment in the sector is currently very attractive. In addition, the current presidency’s support for those efforts is encouraging further inflows. Yet that does not necessarily correlate to similarly booming levels of employment. “The sector’s growth has pros and cons. The pros are that significant investment will flow. But the con of that is that skill development takes time.” Specifically, the high-level skills needed to design and establish energy generation sites are still mainly from abroad. Even local firms running such projects tend to outsource the more technically specific tasks to international renewable energy equipment suppliers involved in the project, with input and support from local expertise. Though those arrangements can encourage skills transfers, it is a niche area. Oosthuizen explains that the near-term opportunities are around construction, with potential for manufacturing. “Many components can be manufactured locally. Certain things, for example, structural stands and pivots, or welding work and building foundations, can be done by locals. Final tweaking and installation are often done by overseas experts.”

HUGE POTENTIAL FOR SECTOR INVESTMENT South Africa is one of the top 20 greenhouse gas emitters, contributing around 1.08 per cent of global emissions. Energy contributes more than half of that total (World Resources Institute). This, combined with our substantial sun and wind resources – and Eskom’s deteriorating infrastructure – gives the country prime reasons to invest in renewable energy. According to The South African National Energy Development Institute, investment in the sector leapt from $30-million in 2011 to an astounding $5.5-billion in 2012. Coal still dominates the market and is responsible for around 85 per cent of local energy generation (2016, StatsSA), not surprising as South Africa has the world’s fifth-largest coal reserves (Department of Mineral Resources). But green energy is rising: in 2020, it supplied 10 per cent of local energy needs, surpassing nuclear (CSIR).

Some components, such as solar panels, struggle to compete against prices from places such as China. Yet other parts, for example, wind turbine towers, make more economic sense if they are locally fabricated. In the sub-1 megawatt segment, which is exempt from licencing, there is tremendous opportunity for installers and artisan manufacturers to provide services and components to local customers.

“Many components can be manufactured locally. Certain things, for example, structural stands and pivots, or welding work and building foundations, can be done by locals. Final tweaking and installation are often done by overseas experts.” – NATO OOSTHUIZEN

Oosthuizen notes that the untapped potential for home and business installations could be as much as 73 gigawatts and does not rely as heavily on imported skills. Fortunately, the local industry does not expect its skills growth to happen Niveshen Govender spontaneously. Over the past decade, it has been bolstering skills development, says Niveshen Govender, COO of the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA). “The solar PV industry had embarked on a process to establish a Solar PV Service Technician qualification at NQF level 5, allowing skills development in solar PV system design, installations, operation and maintenance at both a small-scale and utility-scale.” Indeed, there is considerable sector development activity. SAPVIA has been hosting popular developmental webinars aimed at new entrants to the market. Three years ago, it launched the PV GreenCard Programme to promote safe and quality small-scale project installations. “The programme has a key pillar in skills development aligned with the national curriculum and international best practice. Through this programme, we have managed to train more than 1 200 participants already. We have further recently constituted a Skills for PV working group to identify other key areas of concern and possible solutions going forward,” says Govender. Renewables can be a massive job creator, but it’s not a straight line. There are near-term wins (construction), mid-term potential (manufacturing), room for eventual technical skills transfers, and a sub-1 megawatt industry bubbling with incredible potential. If South Africa can retain the focus of investors and policymakers, the entrepreneurs will follow, and green energy will do more than just light up our homes.

Nato Oosthuizen


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Empowering industry through compliance training workshops for market access into the United States and Africa.

SAFLEC organised a design and trend training workshop with the Milan-based Arsutoria School.



ocal producers must be trained in aspects such as standards and regulations as they embark on production to ensure safety efficacy and “fit-for-purpose” approval of their products, says the South African Bureau of Standards. “Standards provide the benchmark minimum fit-for-purpose requirements and create confidence in target markets,” says Bjorn Buyst, head of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations at the South African Bureau of Standards. “A local producer wishing to export their produce to foreign markets needs to understand how to navigate the requirements of the standards that may be imposed by players in those markets. Equally, they need to know about and comply with any legislation that may be applicable in those markets”, he says. Producers need to be trained in areas such as standards, which are developed primarily to address matters of health, safety and the protection of the environment. At times, standards are also developed for the protection of property, especially as it relates to fire and structural aspects. Compliance with standards gives assurance to the users of a product or service that such a product is safe or the service is reliable. Unfortunately, some exporters are often unable to access the training that

Nerisha Jairaj


prepares them for the market. “It could be due to a lack of awareness of the relevant training required, as well as not having the funding to enrol,” says Buyst.

A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION The South African Footwear and Leather Export Council (SAFLEC) is committed to helping local producers upskill. The council also helps to develop job creation and business growth by encouraging the internationalisation of South African business. SAFLEC executive director Nerisha Jairaj says that the council runs a range of courses to assist players in the sector. They offer courses and workshops in collaboration with Productivity SA to help manufacturers improve efficiencies within their factories and production lines. Training also addresses inventory management, quality and waste utilisation, using a bottom-up approach to infuse the learning throughout the organisation. Compliance training in conjunction with partners such as Bureau Veritas, SGS and USAID is in place to ensure companies understand the requirements to enter different markets. Complementing this is training to meet the requirements for AGOA, SADC and EU certification. SAFLEC has partnered with Absa and Standard Bank on financial training to explain the value of services such as dollar accounts and how local producers can protect them from exchange range fluctuations. Also part of the training is advice on key documentation such as letters of credit and how to register with SARS as an exporter. Legal training entails aspects such as sales contracts, how to patent, brand and licence products, and how to avoid infringing on other brands. Collaboration is key. All the training courses are developed in conjunction with partners so

that their expertise is highlighted and presented in a way that is digestible to exporters.

GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS For South African producers to stay competitive, they need to monitor trends and orient their designs in line with what is currently trending globally, says Jairaj. SAFLEC negotiated a one-week design and trend workshop with Arsutoria, a world-leading school for fashion training, focused on the design and patternmaking of shoes and bags. Previously, training was conducted physically or virtually, but in the past year, all training has been run virtually as a way to continue delivering much-needed knowledge during the pandemic. To maintain momentum, SAFLEC created an interactive virtual tradeshow platform so that local producers can stay visible and showcase their products or service in front of a worldwide audience without the often prohibitive cost of overseas travel. Training interventions are popular with local manufacturers, says Jairaj. “SAFLEC is committed to ensuring that the training is inclusive, with a strong emphasis on empowering black and women producers. Currently, over 80 per cent of attendees fall under the SMME and BEE bracket, with only 5 to 10 per cent being large and established businesses. “With all the investment in training over the past three years, we are seeing an evolution of what is coming out from the industry,” concludes Jairaj.




Local producers with their eye on exporting goods worldwide require specific skills training to operate their businesses safely and meet the requirements of global markets. By PUSELETSO MOMPEI


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Tasneem Fredericks

Andile Nomlala

Tsakani Maluleka

Tandi Nzimande

Busi Sibeko

Kganki Matabane


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KEEPING AN EYE ON THE NSDP BALL How do we meet the NDP’s 2030 skills goals? JAMES FRANCIS reports



THE NDP’s 2030 SKILLS GOALS • Expand the college system • One million learning opportunities through community education and training centres • 80 per cent throughput rate • 70 per cent university enrolment rate • 450 000 students eligible to study science and maths degrees • 75 per cent of higher education staff have PhDs • 100 doctoral graduates per million • Increase government’s R&D spending

jobs and embedding skills planning into he National Skills Development Plan sectoral processes. (NSDP) was gazetted in 2019 to meet The state of primary education is another the National Development Plan’s barrier, says Dr Lydia Cillie-Schmidt, director (NDP) skills requirements. It articulates of The Talent Hub International. “The NSDP several performance indicators and acknowledges the challenges in basic needs such as the roles of different training education, but if issues earlier in the education establishments, identifying the most crucially teachers, and careful evaluations to reduce system are not addressed, the NSDP would needed skills, and highlighting the need for dropout rates and supply in-demand skills. probably not achieve its outcomes. Achieving public-private collaboration. When industries and their big players take the some of these by 2030 seems “Exciting progress initiative, many of the NDP and NSDP’s goals too ambitious, given South is being made in some are achievable. Africa’s reality in terms of areas, while in others But there are two caveats. The first, said basic education.” there is almost none at several interviewees, is that government A draft report from the all,” says Prof Stephanie needs to be more proactive, aggressive Department of Planning, Allais, research chair of and co-ordinated with nuanced plans that Monitoring and Evaluation on skills development and complement the NSDP’s broad strokes. And, NSDP progress reveals several professor of education at adds Siyabonga Madyibi, executive director: hits and misses. For example, Wits University’s Centre for Corporate, External university enrolments are up, Researching Education and and Legal Affairs crossing the million mark in Labour (REAL). at Microsoft South 2020 from 975 837 in 2016. But, “The NSDP is not Africa, we need to technical vocational education a failure, but it needs move beyond pockets and training enrolments are realignment. The pandemic of excellence. “Many Dr Lydia down from 705 397 (2016) to has made clear the extent PPPs work in pockets Cillie-Schmidt 500 000 today. to which we have to build and depend on which There are some examples ‘surge capacity’ so that departments are of skills training success, especially among institutions have additional capacity to draw on proactive as part of public-private partnerships (PPPs). Microsoft to shift direction in moments of difficulty. Our the broader national runs the country’s largest internship current funding models, based rather tightly skills development programme, having trained over 10 000 on learner enrolments, do not make it easy plan. There has to be school-leavers over the past eight years. It for institutions to develop such capacity. The a single point of entry provides digital literacy, digital training for result is that providers can’t respond when from a government there are short-term urgent requirements – perspective to co-ordinate how such as reskilling workers who have lost their Siyabonga Madyibi jobs because of COVID-19.” these public-private Other shortcomings include insufficient partnerships work.” means to support remote/online learning Complacency carries some responsibility and limited access to workplace exposure. for the lag. But there is also action – in April, Allais also argues that there is a need to the artisan grant was raised substantially. Yet adjust quality assurance requirements for the effects of the NSDP aren’t quite reaching qualifications and programmes in targeted where it’s needed most. For that to happen, realignment of focus, collaboration, and sectors and to make short-term adjustments integration of effort needs to take place. to funding mechanisms for immediate training needs. Furthermore, existing technical and vocational education programmes need updating to meet demand in key sectors within the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. Additional interventions proposed by REAL are retraining to preserve existing Professor Stephanie Allais


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F UNDING Ikhala TVET Aliwal North campus.

Umfolozi Maritime Academy launch.

NSF PLACES A PREMIUM ON PREVIOUSLY DISADVANTAGED AND ENTREPRENEURS For South Africa to boost its job creation machinery, it is crucial for skills dissemination initiatives to be tightly targeted, reports LEVI LETSOKO



he high cost of tertiary education has posed major challenges for a country faced with an escalating unemployment rate. Since its inception in 1999 as part of the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS), the National Skills Fund (NSF) has been acting as a counter mechanism to the cost challenge. The fund prioritised institutional learning linked to occupationally directed programmes between 2011 and 2020, says Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande. He further indicates that NSDS III upheld the growth of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges to address the scourge of skills shortages in the country. “The NSF has provided funding of close to R9-billion to public TVET colleges since 2013. This includes the recent R2.2-billion injection for the NSF TVET Occupational Programmes Phase III Funding Window (for the 2021 to 2024 academic years),” says Nzimande. “In recent years, as demonstrated in the NSF Evaluation Study for the strategic period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2020, the NSF has adequately responded to the funding of skills development programmes that target previously disadvantaged individuals, the youth, and prioritised nonmetro areas.” The fund has formed strategic partnerships with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) to deliver on its mandate through building the capacity of postschool education and training (PSET) facilities and facilitating access through bursaries and scholarships.

“In the early years of the transition from the Department of Labour to the Department of Higher Education and Training, the NSF invested its surpluses in building sustainable capacity in the PSET system, addressing the NSFAS shortfall and Dr Blade Nzimande towards expanding access to generations of learners in the country. Surplus funds invested at the Public Investment Corporation for the current financial year amount to R8.846-billion,” Ndzimande adds.

NSF AND THE ECONOMIC RECOVERY PROGRAMME He points out that COVID-19 has also been a major contributing factor to the NSF’s

underexpenditure, due to delays in rolling out funded education and training programmes. The fund is expected to play an important role in the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan by targeting unemployed youth, women and people with disabilities who have been economically impacted by the pandemic. The success of the NSF is dependent on its partner entities. One of the fund’s intentions is to intensify its emerging entrepreneurs project in collaboration with the Small Enterprise Development Agency. “The NSF is earmarked to support two key interventions of the COVID-19 Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Skills Strategy. This includes the initiative to upscale the training of agricultural extension officers, with funding to support all 11 agricultural colleges to the value of R100-million from the NSF, while the AgriSETA has allocated R15-million,” says Nzimande. “Secondly, towards increased access to programmes resulting in qualifications in priority sectors, the NSF will be committing funding for additional capacity building and all the support institutions may need,” he concludes.


Total learners funded











63 903

56 461

4 361

1 537

1 544

27 471

36 432

1 048


48 169

42 134

3 551

1 101

1 383

21 467

26 702



57 238

48 425

6 784


1 165

23 930

33 308



59 051

53 145

4 724


1 182

23 760

35 291



48 942

44 537


3 425


27 572

21 370

21 370


339 920

296 913

25 463

7 524

10 020

152 888

187 032

2 435

*Whites included under other in 2018/19.


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