Tuesday 12 March 2013

ASTD Conference 5 - 7 March 2013 - Part 2

Click here to jump to Part 1 of the ASTD Conference feedback.

Next up was Idah Zwane-Dlomo, General Manager for Corporate Services at the KZN Provincial Government Treasury. It was fitting for one of the first presentations to come out of the public service, given that:
  • The public service is the largest employer in South Africa
  • The public service will now be contributing to the Skills Development Levy in a structured way which will empower PSETA to act as a significant role player in improving public sector performance
  • Poor public service delivery has been a source of violent public protest now for several years
The topic of Idah's presentation was:

"Practical Strategies to Deal with the Skills Gap in the Workplace"

Idah started off by reminding us that South Africa has the paradox of an unemployment crisis existing simultaneously with an employment crisis. For example we have an official unemployment figure of about 25% of the population while the public service has an average vacancy rate of about 23%. This echoes a poignant quote from Minister Blade Nzimande some year's ago when he said almost exactly three years ago:
"While there are no instant solutions,
the cycle of poverty and hopelessness must be broken as soon as possible.
In every village and town, in every suburb
and city centre, there are gifted people
with broken dreams and no income,
who do not qualify for jobs
that must be filled."
- Minister Nzimande 25 March 2010 

Some highlights from Idah's presentation:
  • The use of "trainee ranks" whereby work placements into the Treasury are placed three job levels below their target employment level 
    • This reduces tension with the unions and existing employees who sometimes greet new trainees with suspicion and jealousy, seeing them as a threat to their positions
    • The trainees are assigned mentors to assist them reach full competency in their new positions, and vigorous Personal Development Plans and Personal Improvement Plans are applied
  • The shortage of internal auditors in the Treasury is addressed by learnerships including a  three year contract, at the target level of employment, except where the candidate has no managerial experience in the public service in which case they are assigned a "trainee rank" while gaining the required experience
Idah concluded her presentation with a humorous quote from Mark Twain, highlighting the value in the KZN Treasury attached to real-world experience (versus knowledge and theory):
"Never let formal education get in the way of your learning "
 You can download Idah's presentation here, and read more about her background here.

There was a break following this presentation where the participants got to stretch legs and meet each other.

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