Pretoria — Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has called on authorities to turn the public sector into training space for young graduates.
He said this was crucial if the country was to succeed in providing work-integrated learning for both university and college graduates.
"It does not help to keep complaining about the quality of graduates from our FETs. Our FETs are as good as the private and public sectors are prepared to open up their workplaces for training for our young people," Nzimande said. He was speaking at the first Public Service Sector Skills Colloquium hosted by the Public Service SETA (PSETA) in Pretoria on Monday.
Nzimande said some of South Africa's graduates needed to be retrained and "retooled" into the scarce skills areas, adding the PSETA should lead the process of identifying unemployed graduates for such retraining.
He said it was estimated that if every government department contributed one percent of its salary budget to the PSETA, the SETA would have an annual budget of about R3-billion.
The Department of Higher Education and Training was preparing to publish new SETA grant regulations for public comment in the government gazette next week.
"SETAs are part of the developmental state; and positioned as they are at the interface between the education system and the world of work, they have the responsibility of addressing the challenges posed by the economic Ministries and Departments," Nzimande said.
He said it was always important to reflect on the fact that between the year 2000 and 2010, SETAs had handled funds to a total combined amount of R57-billion, but the country did not have a lot to show for that.
One of the unintended consequences of the levy-grant system was that employers who paid the levies started to believe that the money coming into the system somehow belonged to them and that they had a right to it being returned to them in the form of grants - regardless of whether they used the money to good effect or not.
It has not been easy persuading organised business that the funds are for SETAs to use strategically to transform the economy," said Nzimande.