Nzimande proposes SETAs be reconstituted

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Blade Nzimande, South Africa’s minister of Higher Education, has proposed that the
Sector Training and Education Authority (SETA) system be discarded. Skills
development in the advertising, electronic media, film, electronics, information
technology and telecommunications sectors is managed by the Media, Information
and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA).

In an initiative to enhance skills development in South Africa, the SETA system was
created in 1998 by parliament. The organisation was tasked with creating
opportunities in the form of internships, skills programmes, and apprenticeships, as
well as the collection of skills levy funding from various sectors for education and
training purposes. The governance of SETAs has come under scrutiny in recent
years and the organisation has undergone a number of changes to improve
performance and public perception.

Business Unity SA (BUSA) challenged Nzimande’s facilitation of regulation changes
to the SETA system in 2014, which stated that mandatory skills grants allocated to
businesses should be reduced from 50% to 20% and that any unused funding should
be paid to the National Skills Fund. The dispute was taken to the Labour Court which ruled in favour of BUSA in August 2015 and instructed that SETAs return to the former skills-funding system in March 2016.

SETAs have up until now been governed independently by boards which are equally
made up of labour and employer representatives. The proposal sees SETAs
reconstituted over the next two years to become Sector Education and Training
Advisory Boards (SETAB), with one senior government official with decision-making
authority on their boards. The 1% skills development levy which funds the SETAs is
derived from organisations which have a payroll of over R500 000 per annum.
According to the proposal, 40% of this levy will go to and be managed by the
National Skills Fund.

According to a report by Fin24, Raymond Patel, CEO of the
manufacturing sector’s SETA, MERSETA, the proposal is flexible and far from final.
“It requires a lot of comment and input. We have spoken to our stakeholders and
want to form one common position,’ he said.

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