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The journey from past to present

01 February 2017 Masifunde
Kershen Pillay, CEO at Masifunde

Kershen Pillay, CEO at Masifunde

As I pen this article I am reminded about the vision of one of the greatest leaders of all times. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” Nelson Mandela.

Change and innovation is vital to the evolution of the economy in order for it to strengthen and grow. And while there is no simple on and off button, there are certain key drivers that can monitor and regulate the transformation process

Significant milestones

So what drives innovation and how can we use these drivers to boost our education system thus contributing to a more meaningful workforce population? The answer, although it may seem quite obvious, is the introduction of the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) in 2001.

2020 marks a significant milestone in the evolution of the NSDS for South Africa. I call it an evolution because of the many faces it has presented over the years since the implementation of NSDS one.

 

Let us take a trip down memory lane and look at what the change drivers for the respective NSDS models and what it means to the South African Economy.

 

NSDS one started with an emphasis on equality and the need to cultivate lifelong learning in a workplace environment. Learning was aimed to be driven by demand and on the needs of public and private sectors. The key deliverables were critical to ensure that the desired outcomes were achieved. This led to the beginning of the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA) landscape.

 

Need for improvement

 

The emphasis in NSDS two was placed again on equity, quality training and skills development in the workplace. The need for the promotion of employability was identified. NSDS two also identified the need for assisting designated groups to gain knowledge and experience in a workplace environment in order to gain critical skills. The quality of the provision was identified as a problem area needing improvement.

 

In NSDS three, the emphasis leaned toward that of institutional learning linked to occupationally directed programmes. It promoted the growth of FET Colleges in order to address national skills needs. Better use of workplace skills programmes had been encouraged. Improved service delivery within the public sector was identified as an imperative.

 

Innovation and evolution

 

There has been much discussion in terms of the changing landscape post March 2020. SETAs are currently established until the end of March 2020. It has been confirmed that the current SETAs are reconstituted for an additional period of two years, i.e. 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2020 to facilitate the transition.

 

Post 2020

 

The first option has minimal change and causes minimal disruption to current service delivery. This option does not address some of the challenges faced with the current system and does not talk to the establishment of a single Department of Higher Education and Training. This therefore may not be an option for further consideration.

 

Option two is to cluster the SETAs. This does not offer much change in terms of the current system and there is no clarification in terms of how the clusters would be coordinated and controlled.

 

The third option presented is the establishment of a Skills Council. The primary proposed function of the council is national skills planning, the management of skills development funding, shared resources, standards setting and quality assurance. I am not entirely convinced that this option is in line with the vision and strategy.

 

The last and most viable option is that of option four. SETAs have been a key role player in post schooling education systems and ideally should form part of the system under the Department of Higher Education and Training. It is proposed that the SETAs would be re-established and renamed Sector Education and Training Advisory Boards (SETABs) and become permanent structures of the DHET system.

 

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