While the Skills Development Act of 1998 outlines the broad
structure of the skills development initiatives in South Africa,
the ‘nitty-gritty’ of the operations is governed by a set
of official Regulations.
While an amendment bill is needed to change an act of parliament,
Regulations can be changed by the relevant minister after
consultation with his or her advisors. A new set of Regulations
for the Skills Development Act has now been published in the
Government Gazette after a lengthy consultation with stakeholders
including the National Skills Authority.
These latest Regulations will mean that all previous versions
are repealed in their entirety. The new Regulations stipulate
that a Seta may spend up to 12,5% of its levy income for its
own running costs.
Regarding the Mandatory Grants that Setas pay out, the Regulations
state the Seta must allocate this grant to an employer who
submits the relevant Workplace Skills Plan (WSP). The Setas
also have to make a simplified WSP available for employers
with less than 50 employees.
Previously each Seta set its own submission dates for WSPs
and also had the discretion to allow extensions to the due
date. Under the new rules, WSPs for all Setas have to be submitted
by the 30th September this year, and Setas will not be allowed
to grant extensions. From next year the due date will move
to the 30th June each year.
Employers who don’t claim their grants within the specified
time will lose the money and it will immediately be swept
to discretionary funds.
In an effort to ensure that funds leave Seta bank accounts
to be used for training, 14 different activities may be funded
through discretionary funds.
These include, research, training of skills development facilitators,
Abet, scarce skill training, work experience, institutes of
sectoral excellence, new venture creation learnerships, sector
capacity building and learnerships.
Section 11 of the Regulations limits the ability of Setas
to charge for their services. The Services Seta have made
it know that they would like to charge for granting accreditation
to training providers. In terms of the new Regulations they
will need to apply to the Director General of the Department
of Labour for permission before they can implement that policy.
The most controversial aspects of the Regulations are the
issues they don’t talk about.
Under the new legal framework there is no reference to the
Skills Development Facilitator (SDF). This position has been
played by the individual responsible for drafting the Workplace
Skills Plan and liaising between the company and the Seta.
The duties of the SDF were outlined in government notice R103
which has now been repealed. A fundamental aspect of skills
planning previously was the consultation required between
the employer and staff. Companies with more than 50 employees
were previously required by the Regulations to consult with
staff on the WSP and Implementation Report. The legal requirements
for the consultation have been repealed along with notice