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Budget 2024 has high expectations for SETAs meeting the country’s skills needs – CHIETA CEO

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CHIETA, the Chemical Industries Training and Education Authority, welcomes the skills development challenge the Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana handed down in his 2024 Budget.

“Education received a boost with an additional R25.7 billion in the sector’s budget, but the minister highlighted challenges by reducing spending on infrastructure development at tertiary institutions.  The mandate of the Department of Higher Education and Training is to develop a skilled and capable workforce while broadening the country’s skills base to support an inclusive growth path,” says CHIETA chief executive officer Yershen Pillay.

South Africa’s Higher Education Act (1997) provides for a unified national system of higher education, underpinned by the Skills Development Act (1998), which enables the creation of the National Skills Authority, sector education and training authorities (SETAs), the establishment of the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations, and the regulation of apprenticeships, learnerships and other matters relating to skills development.

Mindful that South Africa has 4,6 million unemployed youth in the country, Pillay says CHIETA, which has a mandate to facilitate skills development, education, and training in the chemical industry, is committed to bridging the digital gaps to a better, connected South Africa in line with the skills Development Programme imperative which seeks to promote and monitor the national skills development strategy to meet the country’s needs.

“Therefore, it is incumbent on the sector to develop skills development policies and regulatory frameworks for an effective skills development system to ensure that SETAs implement skills development interventions in line with the national skills development plan to support an inclusive growth path by March 2025,” he says.

Regarding the Learnership Allowance, Pillay says CHIETA acknowledges that this Section 12H learnership tax incentive is designed to strengthen workplace education, skill enhancement, and employment opportunities. However, to ensure thorough evaluation before determining its future, the sunset date for this incentive will be extended by three years from 1 April 2024 until 31 March 2027.

The challenge to the country’s 21 Setas is clear. The Budget Vote stresses the call to produce and certify 26,500 artisans towards meeting the National Development Plan’s target of producing 30,000 artisans annually by 2030. This means prioritising 190 000 workplace-based learning programmes for learnerships, internships and work-integrated learning ‒ producing one consolidated report on high-demand sectoral occupations and 21 sector skills plans aligned with an updated sector skills plan framework.

“As one of the Setas in the country, we are determined through various programmes to contribute towards the national targets, with programmes contributing towards a skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path by March 2025,” adds Pillay.

In a year from now, Setas are required to ensure that they have completed the:

  • 53 000 learners complete learnerships
  • 11 000 learners’ complete internships
  • 128 000 learners complete skills programmes
  • SETAs meet a good governance standard of 95 percent
  • all SETAs pay allocated mandatory grants to qualifying employers on time
  • trade tests for qualifying applicants are conducted within 40 days.

One cannot lose sleep over the task at hand. Collectively, we must roll up our sleeves and work towards the national goals for skilling the nation.

“The Budget Vote on Higher Education and Training has high expectations for Setas. We are proud that an important pillar of CHIETA’s vision is to overcome the difficulty that many communities in South Africa, predominantly in rural areas, have in accessing digital skills and opportunities. As a sector, there is no time to waste,” concludes Pillay.

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