South Africa: Minister Calls On PSETA to Turn Public Sector Into Training Space for Young Graduates

press release

Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) have to drive the agenda of skills development to achieve inclusive growth, while also increasing the provision of skills that will enable citizens, in particular the youth, to be easily absorbed into work when the expansion of the country's economy occurs.

Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, said this in his keynote address this morning at the first Public Service Sector Skills Colloquium, which was hosted by the Public Service SETA (PSETA) in Pretoria today.

Hosted under the theme of "Opening the Public Service as a Training Space", the colloquium is intended to build a shared understanding of the sector skills strategy for professionalising the public service and opening it up as a training space for work-integrated learning.

"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," Minister Nzimande.

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 is 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 our economy," Minister Nzimande said.

The Minister called on the public service to be at the centre of opening itself as a training space 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. Some of our graduates need to be retrained and retooled into the scarce skills areas, the PSETA should lead the process of identifying unemployed graduates for such retraining and retooling them for our economy," he said.

Minister Nzimande 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. "Now the question would be, do we have a public service that has the capacity to spend that R3-billion per annum in training?"

The Department of Higher Education and Training is preparing to publish new SETA grant regulations for public comment in the government gazette next week.

The Minister of Public Service and Administration, Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, will also address the colloquium.

Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) have to drive the agenda of skills development to achieve inclusive growth, while also increasing the provision of skills that will enable citizens, in particular the youth, to be easily absorbed into work when the expansion of the country's economy occurs.

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