Thursday 22 August 2013

The Skills Pipeline for Over R 3,6 trillion in Major Infrastructure Projects

Constructing the skills pipeline for over R 3,6 trillion in major infrastructure projects* is going to take a lot more than steel and concrete...

How this blog post is structured - click to enlarge

5 January 20115 update: visit the official SIPs Skills Portal here. Click the "How to Guide.pdf" at that top of it's landing page to find out how to join the site and connect with the Occupational Teams.

 1. Introduction

This post is divided into 8 separate headings as shown above.

Without the necessary skills to plan, construct, operate and maintain them, our Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) will be an expensive exercise in outsourcing work that could otherwise have grown our local skills base and helped to spread wealth more evenly across the economy.
"The massive investment in infrastructure must leave more than just power stations, rail lines, dams and roads. It must industrialise the country, generate skills and boost much needed job creation."
President Zuma, State of the Nation Address, 14 Feb 2012.

Realising the need for a strategic Human Resource Development (HRD) plan for the SIPs, the Dept Higher Education and Training set about in April 2012 methodically gathering the data and developing the methodology to achieve the biggest project-focused learning drive in our country's history.

Their objective was not only to generate skills for the SIPs, but also additional skills through the SIPs, using this massive work project as a catalyst for building South Africa's skills base.

The first public results of this work, the launch of the Occupational Teams, took place at the DBSA Vulindlela Academy in Midrand on 6 August 2013. The thinking behind the Occupational Teams shows an advanced level of understanding of labour market supply and demand dynamics, as well as a grasp of the importance of collaborating across the traditionally divided realms of theory and practice, for the design of learning.

There are 5 key concepts to understanding the Occupational Teams concept:

DHET's Occupational Teams - Key Concepts - click to enlarge

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Ground Breaking New Funding Policy from DHET for Artisan Development

A ground breaking new funding policy for artisan development was launched at Olifantsfontein in Midrand on 11 July 2013. Not only will the policy remove one of the three primary blockages to boosting our artisan skills base as a country, it could also pave the way for streamlining the funding and administration of all our SETA based learning initiatives.
"It is not often that organized labour and employers agree on a policy but it seems that when it comes to artisan development there is definitely one voice."
Deputy Minister Manana at the launch of the "Policy for a Generic National Artisan Learner Grant Funding and Administration System" on 11 July 2013

Government, business and labour want more artisans, so what's the hold-up?


Artisan training is an expensive and time-consuming exercise. It takes anywhere from 2 - 4 years to train an artisan, and it costs between R200,000 to R650,000 depending on the trade. The figure of R300,000 was used as the basis for the development of this new policy.

This makes it hard for small and medium sized employers to train artisans in large numbers, but even large employers can go badly wrong if they take on a large group of artisans and run into funding or administration problems.

Deputy Minister Manana concluding the launch of the policy

Government on the other hand has identified artisan development as a key strategy to boost the manufacturing and engineering components of our economy (which are needed to grow exports), and to support job creation by absorbing school leavers and unemployed people into well-paying jobs. So government needs to get employers to scale up their current artisan training efforts to go well beyond "training for their own need" in order to increase the pool of available artisans for the big Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs).

This is one of the reasons that artisan development is one of the key priorities of the HRD Council. In June last year the Council identified funding and learner administration blockages as one of three key constraints to artisan development (artisan data and artisan RPL are the other two constraints).

For example, until the launch of this new funding policy,  there were 14 different sets of grant criteria for employers across the 21 SETAs, and the National Skills Fund (NSF) also had its own criteria.

If you were successful at getting a grant, you couldn't easily plan ahead, knowing what amount your grant was going to be, as each SETA offered differing amounts. Then even if you did plan ahead successfully and get a grant, you faced the certain uncertainty of knowing that everything would change in the next financial year and you may not be able to complete (or repeat) your artisan training -  because with each new financial year SETAs would adapt their grants to available funding and changes in their strategy.
"We as a country and as individual citizens have become completely confused with the multi sector approach to artisan development and as a result have lost huge knowledge of how a real national artisan system works. This policy helps us to get that national system back in place."
Deputy Minister Manana 11 July 2013