Skills development and education have been given a tremendous boost following the signing of two accords intended to, among others, see 30 000 new artisans receive training.
“The accords are going to concentrate on real challenges,” Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel proclaimed at the signing of the National Skills Accord and the Basic Education Accord.
The accords are a collaboration by business, government, labour together with the community. This comes after engagements following on from the launch of the New Growth Path, intended to generate five million job opportunities over the next 10 years. Skills and education happen to be crucial elements in the growth path.
“Dealing with education and skills development is among the core components of the New Growth Path,” said Patel.
The skills accord consists of eight essential responsibilities which are designed to drive training and development. It is expected that approximately 30 000 new artisan students are estimated to enter training this year. Thirty-one percent of this figure will come from the government sector, 13 percent are going to be state owned enterprises and 56 percent will be the private sector.
It will in addition create opportunities for training in a work environment for no less than 16 000 lecturers at FET colleges, which are going to be phased in.
Business and labour already have fully committed to making certain that the funding of training is accessible via the skills development levy. Business at the same time undertook to increase spending on training over and above the one percent compulsory training levy. The accord states that business will encourage companies to spend somewhere between three and five percent of their total salary bill voluntarily on training.
The National Skills Fund (NSF) is going to be utilized effectively to support skills that address the focal points of the growth path.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande explained that all partners involved in the accords are going to be subject to annual binding targets. Currently the department is in the process of completing their budget as to how to spend the fund’s money in consultation with the relevant ministers.
“There is in excess of R4 billion of unspent funds from the past together with R2 billion from this year.”
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga pointed out that the government is inspired by the accord especially for underperforming schools.
“It arrived at the correct time. The accord will be helpful to redirect resources,” said Motshekga of the accord, which saw all parties committing to adopting poorly performing schools.
Organised labour, business along with community organizations fully committed to a target of between 100 and 200 schools to be supported in the adopt-a-school initiative.
Representing organised labour [Cosatu, National Teachers Union (Naptu), Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA)], Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi declared that labour has for many years contended that something needs to be undertaken to transform the lives of workers by way of skills development and education — not just for children , but for workers as well.
“All of us are making a commitment to play our part. All accords will demand active involvement,” he was quoted saying, adding the fact that the key to the success of the accords is not just the signing itself but instead the involvement of all involved to enable it to be a success.
The secretary general added that unions will continue to work to alter the mindset “of all public servants, which includes educators to recognize that our future lies in their hands.”
Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) president Futhi Mthoba suggested the accords represent agreements relating to elements of concern with respect to the growth path. “The significant portion of the accords is that each individual partner is accountable for deliverables. We are going to hold one another responsible,” she explained.
Patel in addition talked about the vital challenge for creating significantly more jobs is to deal with skills shortages and issues, and what we have put together here in these two accords can be described as a partnership right across the training pipeline, starting out at primary school all the way through to FET colleges and beyond. We now have brought here the people with resources.