Why is the Skills Development Act Important?

How the Skills Development Act stimulates education, addresses socio-economic challenges, and promotes a skilled and competitive workforce.

The Awesome Skills Development Act of 1998

The Skills Development Act is important in South Africa for various reasons, particularly from an education and socio-economic development perspective.

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The Skills Development Act stimulates education, addresses socio-economic challenges, and promotes a skilled and competitive workforce that contributes to South Africa’s overall development.

The Purpose of the Skills Development Act

The short supply of skilled workers is a serious obstacle to the competitiveness of our industry.

The Skills Development Act therefore aims to expand the knowledge and competencies of the labour force.

This is to improve productivity and employment.

The Main Aims of the Skills Development Act are:

  1. To improve the quality of life of workers, their prospects of work and labour mobility
  2. To improve productivity in the workplace and the competitiveness of employers
  3. To increase the levels of investment in education and training in the labour market and to improve the return on that investment
  4. To promote self-employment
  5. To improve the delivery of services
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Has the Skills Development Act Been Successful? 4 Studies

Well, that’s a loaded question!

So let’s list four studies you can take a look at to explore a big perspective:

1. A critical review of the National Skills Development Strategy in South Africa

This article provides an update on the Special Edition of the Journal of Vocational Education and Training 57, no. 3, 2005, which focused on the launch of the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) in South Africa.

The analysis here evaluates the impact of the first phase of the NSDS, which ran between 1 April 2001 and 31 March 2005.

The discussion highlights many of the successes and challenges facing skills development in South Africa.

Central amongst these are:

(i) a lack of political will to ensure the success of the ‘integrated’ approach to education and training formally adopted in South Africa after 1994;

(ii) severe governance problems with regard to the management of Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs), including financial mismanagement and fraud;

(iii) and lastly, a multitude of operational problems, making the rollout of the NSDS an extremely difficult and complex task.

Andre Kraak

2. The effects of the Skills Development Act 97 of 1998 on transforming municipal management training and development

This study explored the effects of the Skills Development Act 97 of 1998 on
transforming municipal management training and development.

The pre-1994 education and training was premised on the policy of separate development.

This policy prevented the majority of the people, mainly blacks, from receiving adequate training and development.

Resultantly, training and development in South Africa have assumed significance since the adoption of a constitutional democracy, especially at the local government sphere which constitutes the coalface of service delivery.

Investment in human resources training and development at management level is imperative for institutions to gain strategic and operational advantage.

Gerald Mohlala
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3. Understanding skills development in South African higher education institutions

As part of a critical interpretive research project on skills development in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), the authors attended to the perceptions of Skills Development Facilitators (SDFs) regarding the challenges that HEIs encounter with the implementation of the Skills Development Act (SDA).

We contend that apart from any explanations that have thus far been offered for the challenges, the challenges can be blamed on the lack social capital between the Education Training and Development Practices Sector Education and Training Authority (ETDP SETA) and HEIs.

We defend our claim by firstly developing a conceptual-theoretical framework with respect to the rationale for and meaning of staff development in HEIs and that of the SDA.

We then present the results of a critical interpretive, qualitative inquiry into the perceptions of seven participating HEIs SDFs regarding the challenges that HEIs encounter with the implementation of the Skills Development Act (SDA).

F.J. Potgieter
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4. Will skills save us?

This paper examines experiences with ‘skills development’ in South Africa to contribute to broader debates about ‘skills’ and the relationships between vocational education and development.

Numerous policy interventions and the creation of new institutions and systems for skills development in South Africa are widely seen as having failed to lead to an increase in numbers of skilled workers.

I analyze some of the underlying reasons for this by considering South African policies and systems in the light of research in developed countries.

The dominant view in South African media and policy circles is that a skills shortage, coupled with an inflexible labour market, are the leading causes of unemployment.

This has led to a policy preoccupation with skills as part of a ‘self-help’ agenda, alongside policies such as wage subsidies and a reduction of protective legislation for young workers, instead of collective responsibility for social welfare.

Skills policies have also been part of a policy paradigm which emphasized state regulation through qualification and quality assurance reform, with very little emphasis on building provision systems and on curriculum development.

The South African experience exemplifies how difficult it is to develop robust and coherent skills development in the context of inadequate social security, high levels of job insecurity, and high levels of inequalities.

It also demonstrates some of the weaknesses of so-called ‘market-led’ vocational education

Stephanie Allais

Rethinking the relationships between vocational education, skills development policies, and social policy in South Africa

Highlights from the paper:

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Why is the Skills Development Act Important?

Here are 10 key points to consider:

10. A Skills Development Act to Address Unemployment:

9. Closing the Skills Gap with the Skills Development Act:

8. The Skills Development Act Promotes Lifelong Learning:

  • The Act encourages a culture of continuous learning and development.
  • It emphasizes the importance of ongoing education and training to keep individuals relevant and adaptable in a rapidly changing job market.

7. A Skills Development Act to Enhance Quality of Education and Training:

  • The Act sets standards for the quality of education and training programs, ensuring that individuals receive relevant and valuable skills.
  • This contributes to a workforce that meets international standards and is competitive on a global scale.

6. The Skills Development Act Fosters Economic Growth:

5. A Skills Development Strategy Encouraging Private Sector Participation:

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The Act encourages collaboration between the government and the private sector.

This partnership is essential for identifying industry-specific skills needs and tailoring education and training programs accordingly.

4. Promoting Equity and Inclusivity:

The Act emphasizes the importance of equal access to skills development opportunities, regardless of background or demographic factors.

This contributes to a more inclusive society and helps address historical inequalities.

3. Meeting Employment Equity Goals:

The Act aligns with South Africa’s broader employment equity goals by promoting equal opportunities for all individuals, irrespective of race, gender, or other factors.

2. Reducing Poverty:

By empowering individuals with relevant skills, the Act contributes to poverty reduction.

A skilled workforce is more likely to secure stable employment and higher incomes, leading to improved living standards.

1. The Skills Development Act Promotes Global Competitiveness:

  • In an increasingly globalized economy, having a skilled and adaptable workforce is essential for a country’s competitiveness.
  • The Skills Development Act plays a role in positioning South Africa as a competitive player in the international arena.
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Key Issues and Obligations of the Skills Development Act

The aims of the Act are to be achieved by establishing an institutional and financial framework.

For example the National Skills Authority (NSA), the National Skills Fund (NSF), the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETAs) and institutions in the Department of Labour.

The National Skills Authority in the SDA Framework

The Act established the National Skills Authority on 12 April 1999.

The functions of the NSA are to advise the Minister of Labour on a national skills development policy and strategy, and on guidelines to implement the national skills development strategy.

It also advises the Minister on the allocation of subsidies from the NSF. It reports to the Minister on the progress made in the implementation of the strategy.

The NSA has to conduct investigations on any matter that arises out of the application of the Act.

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The composition of the NSA is as follows:

  1. Chairperson
  2. Executive Officer
  3. Organised business (BSA and Nafcoc)
  4. Organised labour (Cosatu, Nactu and Fedusa)
  5. Government departments (Labour, Education, DPSA, DTI and DACST)
  6. Community (Youth, Women People with disabilities, Rural and Civic)
  7. Representatives from education and training providers (higher education, further education, adult basic education and training, and private)

The Role of the Different SETAs Now Fall under the QCTO

The Minister of Labour is given the responsibility by a law (the Act) to create and support a SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) for different economic sectors in the country.

A SETA’s main job is to plan and carry out skills development within a specific industry.

This involves creating plans for developing skills, using grants to encourage skill development in workplaces, and promoting learnerships, which are structured programs combining learning and practical work experience.

SETAs also have the role of ensuring the quality of education and training in their sectors.

They coordinate with various entities such as Employment Services, the NSA (National Skills Authority), and provincial bodies.

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They are required to regularly report to the Director-General of the Department of Labour about how they’re implementing their plans, managing their finances, and achieving their goals.

The funding for SETAs comes from levies collected from the industries they serve and money received from the National Skills Fund.

The composition of a SETA must, in terms of section 11 of the Act, include:

  1. Organised employers (including sme’s)
  2. Organised labour
  3. Relevant government departments
  4. Relevant professional bodies (optional)
  5. Representatives form the relevant bargaining council (optional).

The Importance of SETA Learnerships are Emphasized

One specific function of a SETA is to create learnerships.

A learnership is a program that includes both a structured learning curriculum and hands-on work experience of a specific kind and duration.

The ultimate goal of a learnership is to lead participants to gain a qualification that is officially recognized by the South African Qualifications Authority.

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The Skills Development Planning Unit

The Director-General of the Department of Labour is obliged in terms of section 22 of the Act to establish a Skills Development Planning Unit in the Department and provide it with the personnel and financial resources necessary for the performance of its functions.

The functions of the Unit are:

  1. to research and analyse the labour market in order to determine skills development needs for South Africa as whole, each sector of the economy and organs of state
  2. assist in the formulation of the national skills development strategy and sector skills development plans
  3. to provide information on skills to the Minister, NSA, SETA, education and training providers, and organs of state.

The Establishment of Labour Centres

The Director-General has the mandate to set up labour centres in the Department.

The functions of the labour centres are to provide employment services for workers, employers, training providers and rural communities.

The labour centres carry out the following:

  1. register work-seekers
  2. list vacancies and work opportunities
  3. assist prescribed categories of persons to:

The National Skills Fund and the Skills Development Act

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The Act established the National Skills Fund.

This funds projects that have been identified in the national skills development strategy as priority or other projects the Director-General sees as necessary to the achievement of the purposes of the Act.

The Skills Development Levies Act of 1999 provides for the collection, administration, disbursement and regulation of the monies in the Fund.

Finally, the Act provides for the public service employer in the national and provincial spheres of government to budget for at least one percent of its payroll for education and training of its employees with effect from 1 April 2000 and to contribute funds to a SETA where necessary.

Amendments to the Skills Development Act

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