KEY NOTE ADDRESS Expansion for Skills Access

Friday, November 1, 2013

HONOURABLE DEPUTY MINISTER: HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING
MR MDUDUZI MANANA

KEY NOTE ADDRESS
Expansion for Skills Access

ANNUAL CONSULTATIVE CONFERENCE BIRCHWOOD CONFERENCE CENTRE
01 NOVEMBER 2013

 

Programme Director;
MQA Chairperson, Mr Msiza;
Members of the MQA Board;
MQA CEO, Mr Seepei;
Representatives from government departments;
Mr Bheki Sibiya CEO, Chamber of Mines representing the business community,
Mr Senzeni Zokwana, the President of National Union of Mine Workers;
Members of other trade unions represented here today,
Distinguished Guests for the mining, minerals and other sectors;
Representatives from Associated Mining Houses;
Representatives from Academic Structures;
Education and skills development providers;
Media representatives;
The MQA Executives, Management and Staff;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a great honour for me to address the MQA and its stakeholders at this Annual Consultative Conference.

I need to begin by thanking the MQA for their commitment and proactiveness in dealing with skills development in the sector. This, I have seen when I visited the country during the “Year of the Artisan” events as well as the International Literacy Day Event that the MQA in partnership with NUM hosted at Matlosana in Klerksdorp.

The theme of the conference this year is “Expansions for skills access.”How fitting this theme is! I have seen the expansion of SETAs in the past year, their partnerships with Further Education and Training institutions have made a difference for our people in rural areas. The DHET is unapologetic about the need to develop our FETs in order to ensure that there is a pool of artisans to enable us to be spoilt for choice when making employment decisions. Even if these artisans are not taken up in industry, they will have valuable, portable skills that they can use to open small businesses and become productive citizens. In my other life, I would have loved to be a plumber, as I have been charged absorbent fees by plumbers that are even higher than a doctor’s consultation and medication included. Our goal is to promote post school learning sites with employers supporting our learners with experiential learning.

Since the commencement of NSDS 111 in 2011, a total of 27 241 artisans completed their training and 42 283 learners were enrolled and certificated in SETA learnerships. [NSDS 111 Progress Report 2011-2013 pg 38 & 64]. We also rely on SETAs to assist in developing the deteriorated infrastructure of the FETs so that we can improve the quality of learning, enhance the knowledge of the graduates from the FETs and improve their chances for employment. Our goal as the DHET Ladies and Gentlemen is toensure a synergised approach to the development of skills in our country. Our slogan of “Working together, we can do more” is one that is conscientising us to do better than what we have already done since 1994.

This is one sector that possesses wealth of our country however, this is also the sector that has experienced many challenges in the past two or three years. We have heard of mine deaths, long strikes, associated violence leading to fatalities and the loss of productivity. I believe that the sector is on a recovery trajectory, however there are still challenges. Let us forge relationships that will contribute to the nurturing and growing the sector. I appeal to the industry, together with the MQA, to stand together and identify opportunities for the scarce and critical skills required and further embrace the goals of the Mining Charter such as transformation.

TRANSFORMATION

This is one of the first sectors that had a Charter in South Africa, namely the Mining Charter or the Broad Based Socio Economic Empowerment Charter. This sector needs to acknowledge its achievements to date, as this Charter has contributed to redressing the inequalities of our country. This was a charter established to ensure the inclusion of historically disadvantaged South Africans (HDSAs) in the business of mining and employment in the sector. The establishment of the Mining Charter has seen an increased focus on maths and science support for high school learners, career guidance efforts were increased, and we saw higher intakes of bursars. Learners being taken on into programmes such as work experience, internships, supervisory training also increased for historically disadvantaged individuals. There were a total of 2 918 and 2 272 unemployed bursars enrolled and certificated during the past two years amongst our SETAs. The NSDS 111 has also increased its focus on post graduate support with 2 219 bursars supported from Honours to Post Doctoral level. 3 073 unemployed bursars were also taken on in internship programmes. [Figures NSDS 111 Progress Report 2011-2013]. The profile of the mining sector needs to be more inclusiveness in managerial positions and embrace the diversity of our country, and I believe this will contribute to our transformation.

IMPACT OF SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

The Minister of Higher Education and Training, DrBlade Nzimande in his opening speech during this year’s National Skills Development conference shared some starling statistics pertaining to the SETA. He indicated that, since the establishment of the SETAs R57 billion rands was spent on skills development by the SETAs. This statement was not meant to be a criticism levelled towards SETAs but rather a trigger to reflect on the impact of the SETAs. Quite honestly, it left me wondering that if so much money had already been spent on skills development, how come we are still faced with the skills shortages in some sectors. In addition, how come we have so many young graduates that are unemployed? Could this be possibly be the issue of supply and demand which is the mismatch between the graduates produced versus the skills required by various sectors? Ladies and gentleman, we must therefore strive towards continuously matching the work done by the SETAs and the impact of the training provided in its totality. There must be the value for money.

LITERACY PROMOTION

Skills development contributes to ensuring that there are improved literacy levels in our country on programmes such as Adult Education and Training (AET) and Foundational Learning Competency (FLC). I applaud the MQA and the sector for the work that it has done with regards to AET, but I also appeal that greater encouragement and support be provided to improve the literacy levels and thus the quality of lives of those who were not given a chance to gain an education in our past.

MATHS AND SCIENCE SUPPORT

Concerted efforts are also ensured to provide access to learners from grass roots with mathematics and science to enter into occupationally-directed technical careers that are fit for purpose and contribute to gainful employment. This sector needs to ensure that there are new entrants from disadvantaged communities for reducing unemployment and creating productive citizens. If we fund young people in the mining sector through our various programmes and these individuals end up as cashiers then we have failed. Cashiers are trained and given work experience in the Wholesale and Retail sector.

WOMEN IN MINING

During my visits to some mines, I had to look quite hard to see a women and particularly to see one at a senior non-administrative role. Here I am talking about black and white women. I urge the sector to also invest more in the inclusion of women in technical fields. An increasing number of women are qualifying as artisans, engineers, geologists and other mining related careers. I met an unemployed qualified female geologist in Mthatha, surely this should not be taking place in our country. Our unemployed qualified graduates need to find employers to consider them in employment. I encourage the sector to make its mines more female friendly and also ensure reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities.

MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY

I am glad that the MQA with the support of  the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) has developed programmes to support mine health and safety through the Mine Health and Safety Summit Tripartite Agreement. This will contribute to safer mines and young people entering safe nonthreatening environments. An accident caused because one could not read a sign should be a thing of the past.

NATIONAL SKILLS DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY (NSDS)

The National Skills Development Strategy 111 under the DHET, has contributed to the strengthening of regional networks of SETAs. SETAs are no longer seen as elite ivory towers located in Johannesburg. Our goal is to have greater access for the people we serve. An enabling environment must be created so that structures that were previously marginalised and were not fully utilised, are supported. Here I am referring to our FET institutions once again. Also structures such as Indlela are required to strengthen the support of trade testing. The mining sector as you heard this morning, is also challenged with previously disadvantaged individuals being successful in the Government Certificate of Competence (GCC). All efforts must be directed towards helping young engineers so that they are not marginalised because they cannot obtain the GCC. Measures must be put in place to assist and fast track this challenging learning area.

The DHET is also moving away from the notion that to be anything in life you can only achieve that by becoming a university graduate. We are rather encouraging Universities to work with FET colleges. In the future we could see University Colleges that cater for both HET and FET learners thus reconfiguring our post school system to be a more inclusive one. The route to success is not only through the higher education route. I am not downplaying the importance of HETs but there are individuals, in our society that prefer the practicalside whereas others focus more on academia. Both have a place in our society. Many SETAs partnered with HET and FET institutions in the past two years in their research departments. I challenge the MQA to also consider such partnerships. [NSDS 111 Progress Report 2011-2013 pg 45].  We have recognised the value of artisans and I acknowledge the efforts that the MQA together with its partners make towards artisan development. The DHET remains committed to the National Skills Accord.

PARTNERSHIPS IN EDUCATION

Ladies and Gentlemen, the democratisation of our country brought with it unpopular decisions such as the unifying of our education systems. The Skills Development Act also ensures that all employees have access to regulated skills through the National Qualifications Framework and the South African Qualifications Authority. Inferior education and standards should be a thing of the past. Education in South Africa has opened doors for many and will continue to do so. Although more work needs to be done, our workplaces are more inclusive and this has improved the lives of many. Change is a constant and is never easy, but South Africa is proud of the achievements that it has made in the past 19 years. There continues to be sceptics on how our skills development systems should be, but as government, we are committed to continue changing the lives of South Africans for the better.

As the Honourable Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela once said, and I quote,

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

I strongly believe that we cannot give up on what we started, but rather seek to empower every South African with the relevant tools such aseducation and skills, to be productive.

In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you success in your deliberations as you reflect and deliberate on the MQAs 2012-2013 annual report today. It is always important to reflect on ones successes and to identify opportunities that will result in even further improvements. Through the NSDS III, we aim to grow skills in our country to even greater levels.

Finally, I wish you well in the rest of your discussions. Our government is resolute in our determination to ensure a ‘BETTER LIFE FOR ALL’ in our country. Together we will and can do more!

I thank you!