Speech delivered by the Deputy Director-General for Skills Development Mr Zukile Christopher Mvalo on behalf of Dr Blade Nzimande, the  Honourable Minister of the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation

Programme Director,

Chairperson of the Accounting Authority, Mr David Msiza

Members of the MQA Board,

Management and representatives from our associated mining houses and employers in the Mining and Minerals Sector,

Representatives from Organised Labour,

Representatives from government departments,

Representatives from Community constituencies and MQA beneficiaries,

PSET representatives including Education and skills development providers,

Media representatives,

Acting CEO, Dr Thabo Mashongoane and MQA Executives,

MQA Management and Staff,

Distinguished guests

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All protocol observed.

Programme Director Good morning,

Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure and honour to address and engage you at this august gathering especially, at the time when MQA has achieved clean audit. Chairperson, let me formally congratulate you, the Board, Management, Staff, and all sector stakeholders who directly and indirectly contributed to this achievement. I must really thank the Mining Qualification Authority (MQA), for affording me this opportunity to come and deliver this keynote address.

 Indeed, I am delighted that the MQA selected to align this year’s theme, which is “A time for stability, growth and technological skills enhancement’’. This is indication that indeed the SETA and the Sector is hard at work to ensure that mandate identified in the ERRP Skills strategy and other policy documents on the fast tracking of HRD, Skills development and human capital development in general is achieved, particularly, post COVID 19 pandemic. 

Following the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns, we experienced in the past two years, I am happy to see such an audience gathered in one space to come and celebrate this important day. The advantages brought by the pandemic is that we continue to consider Hybrid Literacy Day Celebration events, as well as other events, in a format that incorporates in-person attendance as we also accommodate those delegates that link in remotely. Therefore, before I commence with my address, let me also greet the delegates linking in virtually to this event from across all the corners of South Africa.  Good morning to you all.

Let me preface my speech this morning with the StatsSA Quarterly Labour force survey report released earlier this year by the Statistician General. The Report indicated that the working-age population increased by 144 000 or 0,4% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the fourth quarter of 2021. Compared to Q1: 2021, the working-age population increased by 578 000 or 1,5%. The number of employed persons increased by 370 000 to 14,9 million in Q1: 2022, while the number of unemployed persons decreased by 60 000 to 7,9 million compared to Q4: 2021, resulting in an increase of 310 000 (up by 1,4%) in the number of people in the labour force. The number of discouraged work-seekers decreased by 54 000 (down by 1,4%) and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement also decreased by 112 000 (down by 0,8%) between the two quarters, resulting in a net decrease of 166 000 in the not economically active population.

To better understand the observed large changes in the key labour market indicators between Q4: 2021 and Q1: 2022, special tabulations were done to study movements between labour market status categories. It was observed that a large number of persons moved from the ” not economically active ” and “unemployed” categories to the “employed” status between the two quarters, which resulted in a decrease of 0,8 of a percentage point in the unemployment rate to 34,5%. This is the third highest unemployment rate recorded since the start of the QLFS in 2008. The labour force participation rate in Q1: 2022 was higher than that reported in Q4: 2021 as a result of these movements – increasing by 0,6 of a percentage point to 56,9%. The absorption rate also increased by 0,8 of a percentage point to 37,3% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the fourth quarter of 2021.

The Report goes further to indicate that employment decreases were observed in Private households (down by 186 000) and Agricultural sector (down by 23 000) in Q1: 2022, while employment gains were observed in the formal sector (up by 408 000) and the informal sector (up by 171 000). Compared to a year ago, total employment decreased by 81 000 persons. The number of unemployed persons increased by 8,6% (620 000), while the number of persons who were not economically active increased by 0,2% (39 000). Between Q4: 2021 and Q1: 2022, the number of employed persons increased in six of the ten industries. The largest increase in employment was recorded in Community and social services (281 000), followed by Manufacturing (263 000), Trade (98 000) and Mining (36 000). The decreases in employment were recorded in Private households (186 000), followed by Finance (72 000), Construction (60 000) and Agriculture (23 000).

These statistics clearly show us that the impact of COVID-19 on the economy has had profound implications for employment, poverty and widening inequalities since many enterprises and businesses were on minimal operative levels or operations were completely halted. This situation should then compel the MQA and the sector to rethink their training interventions to focus on retrenched employees, the role of ICT in the mining and minerals sectors, and the training needs of mining communities. The sector retrenchments will require a particular focus for MQA to address skills enhancement and opportunities for alternative employment. Moving from a traditional office work environment to ICT platforms has become a new

way of doing business. MQA needs to explore the benefits of a hybrid model and its implications on organisational performance. The MQA as a learning organisation should devise strategies to adapt to these developments as part of corporate plans in the future.

The National Skills Development Plan (NSDP) places SETAs as intermediaries between training providers and places of employment as part of an integrated approach to skills development. The NSDP is different from its predecessor, the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) focused on outcomes rather than goal-oriented ones. SETAs are also central to the information collection that will eventually inform their

planning process. Management of this information, drawn from research and tracer studies, is crucial for long-term planning for MQA. Translating this information into an organisational knowledge base will enhance planning and targeted performance by MQA.

The migration of the MQA from the Department of Mineral Resources to Higher Education and Training has ensured that the SETA is licenced in a manner consistent with other SETAs and that its performance is objectively measured against others.

The partnership opportunities should be identified as strategic priorities to enhance collaborative implementation of training efforts in order to maximise the return on investment. This should be underpinned by developing a partnership framework/policy to enable the MQA to enter into partnerships with industry and research institutions. The MQA should have partnerships with institutions of higher learning and TVET colleges as sister organisations in the post-school education and training system. Working with universities with mining and minerals faculties will provide the MQA with an institutional arrangement for research chairs, bursaries for learners, and tailor-made training programs for skills required in the sector.

Programmed director, I must say that in recent years, governments, public institutions and organisations have been under tremendous pressure to account on results of various policies, programmes and projects they have implemented. Citizens, funding agencies, and stakeholders are set on demanding answers to various types of questions in relation to services delivered. It is against this backdrop that we are all here today to receive a report on how the SETA has performed in the previous financial year. I am also impressed by how you renamed the normal AGM to ACC which then emphasises an element of listening to the needs and views of the stakeholders within the sector. I hope that the outcomes of today’s discussions will ultimately influence the SETA planning agenda in a positive way.

Chairperson, allow me to remind the SETA and all stakeholders about the pillars and marching orders for all the SETAs until the year 2030 and these are the outcomes as per the NSDP 2030;

Outcome 1Identify and increase production of occupations in high demandProvide career information indicating occupations in high demand in support economic growth (ERRP) Match demand and supply
Outcome 2Linking education and the workplaceProvide career information required by the industries. Career guidance informed by labour market intelligence information to address skills mismatch, under / over supply
Outcome 3Improving the level of skills in the SA workforceTo build capacity of the SA workforce, labour market intelligence information must provide career information that equips learners to pursue careers in scarce and critical skills
Outcome 4Increase access to occupationally directed programmesProvide career information on various workplace-based learning programmes with practical experience such learnerships, artisanships, graduate placements, internships, candidacy and cadetship etc
Outcome 5Support the growth of the public TVET college systemPromote public TVET college programme offerings to position the TVET colleges as institutions of choice for economic growth and employment creation
Outcome 6Skills development support for entrepreneurship, SMMEs & coops developmentCareer development services must equip learners to think beyond making career choices for employability but for employment creation.
Outcome 7Encourage and support worker initiated trainingTargeted for trade union officials and federations to build capacity about their roles
Outcome 8Support career development servicesAPP targets to focus on no. of sessions. Report number of sessions held but keep registers of learners for validation purposes.  Partner with industry / employers and provide information about funding opportunities in support of various career options and requirements for admission into various academic programmes.

   As I conclude, let me emphasise the following expectations as previously communicated to the Accounting Authority:

  • Improving SETA Governance – Action plans for improvement of internal controls to address audit findings
  • Service Level Agreement – to meet at least 25% of its targets in every quarter and progress thereon to be monitored through quarterly reports submitted to the Department
  • TVET Graduate Placements – to meet 100% of TVET Graduate Placement targets by 31 December 2022
  • Industry Partnership – strengthen partnership with employers both levy payers and non levy payers for sector skills planning, placement of graduates into employment, workplace training (internships, learnerships), lecturer development etc
  • ERRP – to implement the Skills Strategy to Support ERRP
  • PYEI – SETA to support implementation of the Presidential Youth Employment Initiatives (PEYI)
  • SETA Grant Policies – to include a provision for unsolicited proposals to enable flexibility and responsiveness to emerging needs of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP), the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention (PYEI), and other government related priority projects and special projects e.g WSSA Competitions, DDM etc
  • Supporting Academies in training of artisans and artisan aids and artisan RPL especially trade union initiated centres that aims to push back injustices of the past by complementing what some employers are already doing
  • Skills implications for climate change and transitioning to renewable energy and coal
  • Skills implications for platinum group metals to hydrogen production
  • TVET college placement targets must be increased to support SONA Presidential commitment
  • Training of people with disabilities
  • Supporting the MERSETA as a lead SETA on TVET Colleges engineering curriculum development
  • Transitional process for alignment of the MQA governance to the Skills Development Act (migration of MQA governance from DMR Mine Health and Safety Act to the DHET Skills Development Act)

Programme director, as I conclude, let me appreciate this opportunity of engaging with your stakeholders in this important sector which has been the bedrock of development in our country and still continue to contribute to the GDP of our country.  Let us strive to make Mining the lime light of of our beautiful Mzansi once again,

“The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”

(by Alvin Tofler).

 I thank you…..