DPSA Skill Development Act Summary

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DPSA Skill Development Act Summary


Briefing to the Select Committee on Local Government and Administration


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The purpose of this paper is to present a briefing to the Select Committee on skills development in the public service. The brief covers the period 1995-2001.

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The need for skills development: An overview

It is widely agreed that South Africa is not yet equipped with the skills it needs for economic and employment growth and social development. Although the overall competitiveness has improved, South Africa is ranked at the bottom of a league of forty seven countries for economic literacy, its education system, unemployment, skilled labour, and the availability of information technology skills. The demands of a complex and changing economy-that are characterized by increasing use of information, complex technologies and a general rise in the skill requirements of jobs require higher levels of applied competence. This competence, motivation and adaptability of the workforce will be a determining factor in the performance of the country in the global economy. South Africa has to compete with other nations and to function in a worldwide market. In the words of Minister MMS Mdladlana (Minister of Labour) “employers find it hard to find the skills they need and job seekers are frustrated when they do not qualify for jobs that are available”.

The public service as the largest employer is faced with immense challenges to deliver services to the public of South Africa while also undergoing transformation and reform. The challenges are immense. Central is the need to build a new cadre of public servant with the requisite competencies to drive the twin challenges of the public service, i.e. reform and service delivery. The baseline research commissioned by the Department of Public Service and Administration (1999-2000) on the status of training in the Public Service shows that, seven years after the democratic elections, the public service education and training scenario has not changed much. Some of the problems, identified in the Training Reports of 1996/97, continue to exist today and they includes the fact that; training in the public service is ad hoc, fragmented and uncoordinated; opportunities are afforded to senior managers – and less to lower ranks, and that in many instances training is not been integrated with the business strategies of the departments.

Some of the major weaknesses identified includes the lack of policies and guidelines, inadequate HR structures to support training, non – supportive
managers, inadequate IT capacity, lack of information management system, time and budget constrains, need for a national training strategy. The skills strategy
has to be implemented.

Policy and legislative context

1. The Skills Development Act
The Skills Development Act, 1998 forms the core piece of legislation upon which the HRD Strategy for the Public Service is based.

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The main purpose of the Skills Development Act (SDA) is to develop the skills or human resource of the South African workforce, improve the quality of life of workers, their prospects of work and labour mobility.

The Act also aim to improve the delivery of social services by providing
employees with the opportunity to acquire new skills by also encouraging
employers to use the workplace as an active learning environment. The SDA therefore, present us with a concrete strategy to develop skills.

The Skills Development Act made many changes to traditional skills
development by:
– Creating new structures for training;
– Creating new funding incentives to encourage more training;
– Creating new forms of learning programmes; and
Proposing new ways of helping all people get skills and employment.

The government’s commitment to promote skills development in South Africa is demonstrated in the Skills Development Act, 1998, the Skills Development
Levies Act, 1999 and the SAQA Act, 1995. These Acts introduced new
institutions, programs and funding policies, designed to increase investment in skills development and guarantee the quality of training and education

In terms of Chapter two, section 3(2) (a) (ii), of the Public Service Act, 1 994, the Minister for Public Service and Administration may exercise powers related to employment, and other personnel practices, including the promotion of broad representivity as well as human resource management and training in the Public Service.

For the Public Service to succeed in its mandate of providing effective and efficient service delivery to the citizens of the country, it needs to invest in Public Service training and development. In view of the high demand for skilled personnel in the Public Service two strategies have been developed in order to give direction to the promotion of cohesive and integrated human resource development.

2. The National Skills Development Strategy

The Minister of Labour has adopted the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS). The NSDS is driven by, and around, the needs of the population. It is focussed on a number of priority areas for which five objectives and twelve specific targets have been proposed. These are:
1. Developing a culture of high quality life-long learning
2. Fostering skills development in the formal economy for productivity and employment growth.
3. Stimulating and supporting skills development in small businesses.
4. Promoting skills development for employability and sustainable livelihoods through social development initiatives.
5. Assisting new entrants into employment.

By implementing the NSDS the government, in partnership with employers, workers and communities, aims to improve the employability of the country’s workforce.

The Skills Development Act, which prqvides the legal underpinnings that support the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS), seeks to establish a high quality skills development system that is: cost effective and accountable; meets skills needs; and promotes employment generation and economic growth. The Act has made provision for the formation of the National Skills Authority (NSA), which in collaboration with the Department of Labour and other stakeholder organisations will monitor progress on the implementation of the NSDS. Procedures for planning and the execution of interventions around the strategy are devolved and decentralised to each Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) and this in turn is driven by the needs of individual firms in each sector. Responsibilities for skills planning and interventions are also devolved to the Provinces, which will oversee skills development through social development and micro-enterprise programmes within their areas of jurisdiction.

3. South African Qualifications Authority Act

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) Act creates a new framework for education and training in South Africa by:
· Creating a single, unified system for education and training qualifications in the country; and
· Creating the institutions to ensure that these qualifications are of a high quality.

The SAQA Act set up ways of ensuring that the quality and training in South Africa is high quality and that it provides many different entry, exit and reentry points. In order to achieve this, the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) was formulated. The NQF provides a framework within which all learning can be quality assured – whether it takes place at school, at work or at home and by whomever, be they young or mature learners. Education and training are recognised as different forms of learning with the same status. All learning now has to be recognised through national standards and qualifications. The recognition of prior learning (RPL) is an acknowledgement that skills acquired outside the context of a formal course equally deserve recognition and goes some way to redress the disregard of informal learning in the past.

The SAQA Act looks towards a future where skills development extends throughout the entire working life of a person and endorses the concept of life-long learning for all citizens.

The SAQA Act states that:
· All skills must be written as learning outcomes. These outcomes will be recognised through national standards and qualifications.
· A qualification is made up of standards, each of which carries a number of smaller parts called credits.
· People can earn credits without going to a formal course if they can show that they already have the skills and knowledge required in the standards and qualifications (RPL).

Understanding the skills development policy frameworks
The first strategy, The National Skills Development Strategy identifies priorities for skills development and the contribution toward an emerging national human resources development strategy. The National Skills Development Strategy makes provision for a new system of learning, which combines structured learning and work experience culminating in nationally recognized qualifications that signify job readiness within the National Qualification Framework (NQ F).

The second strategy, Human Resource Development Strategy for South Africa ensures that the various components of the state work together to deliver opportunities for human development. The Human Resource Development Strategy for South Africa is therefore to ensure that relevant Constitutional provisions are progressively ensured.

The Human Resource Development Strategy for the Public Service forms one of the cornerstones to give practical effect to both the National Skills Development Strategy as well as the Human Resource Development Strategy for South Africa.

The broad purpose of the HRD Strategy in the public service, is to ensure accelerated service delivery in the Public Service through effective people management and development. The HRD Strategy for the Public Service is informed amongst other by both the National Skills Development Strategy and the Human Resource Development Strategy for South Africa.

The strategy will ensure that a culture of high quality lifelong learning in the public service, is created; public service employees have the opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skills, personal attributes and values that will enable them to achieve results on government policies; employees are provided with the guidance and appropriate support to develop themselves and others to the fullest extent, consistent with the needs of the public service, and individual desires and capabilities; employees are developed and available for appointment to increasingly responsible positions that become available;

At the departmental level, employees will need sound basic skills to support adaptability in the workplace as well as higher skills levels. Management will need improved interpersonal, people management and business management skills, and to introduce well structured Public Service entry-level training programs and regular upgrading of skills of workers and management.

New Institutions ( SETAsy

Implementation of the SDA is to be achieved through the establishment of the
Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). On 20 March 2000, 25
SETAs came into being. The main tasks of the SETAs are:
· To compile sector skills plans that states who is employed where in the sector and what the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in the sector are;
· To determine where learnerships are needed, designing, marketing and registering the learnerships;
· To act as an Education and Training Quality Assurer for standards and qualifications in the sector;
· To disburse money from the National Skills Development Levy; and
· To provide information about the sector.

All government departments will be covered by SETAs, but in different ways.
· If the main work of a department is covered by a SETA, the department will be linked to that SETA, e.g. Department of Education will be linked to the ETDPSETA.
· If a government department does not have a clear link with another
SETA, it will be part of the PSETA, e.g. departments such as
President’s Office, Home Affairs, Labour, and Public Service and

The PSETA will be responsible for quality assuring qualifications that are common to all government departments. It will make sure that these qualifications are included in the Workplace Skills Plans of all departments.

The Public Sector Education and Training Authority (PSETA) Brief Profile


The PSETA was established in December 1999. It is located within the Department of Public Service and Administration. At the time of establishment two issues remained unresolved, i.e. the scope of coverage and the financial viability of the Public Service Education and Training Sector Authority. These issues were temporarily addressed through a Cabinet Memo (December 6, 2000) whereby all Departments that were not aligned to any SETA were to become members of the PSETA and that the budget would come from the DPSA. In addition the PSETA had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Public Service and Administration (2001) which legally deals with issues of governance; In effect the PSETA would be a programme within the DPSA and the DG would be the accounting officer of the PSETA.


According to the Skills Development Levies Act, all employers, who have registered their employees for Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax, must pay the skills development levy. All businesses, no matter how small, that are registered for PAYE, must pay the levy. Employers who have not registered their employees for PAYE, but who pay over R250 000 a year in remuneration to their employees, must pay the skills levy.

However, the Skills Development Levies Act currently exempts “any public service employer in the national or provincial sphere of government” [clause 4(a) from paying the skills development levy. It also exempt any national or provincial public entity, if 80% or more of its expenditure is defrayed directly or indirectly from funds voted by parliament” [clause 4(d)] Section 3(1) the Skills Development Levies Act states that employers must pay a skills development levy every month. In essence as the Public Sector SETAs do not receive funds from Levies to disburse (like other SETAs), public sector departments do not pay the levy, but are supposed to ring-fence the appropriate percentage for funding the skill development activities, ranging from learnership costs, learners allowances, etc. This does not always happen.

Cabinet has attempted to address the issue as follows:
· The DPSA provides for the administration costs of the PSETA, while departments would ring-fence 1 % for training.

Departments that belong to line function SETAs such as Education, Health and Welfare, SAPS, etc. to contribute 10% of their 1 % levy for the admin costs of their SETAs.
· Some departments will therefore retain their 100% or 90% of their levy and be responsible for funding the skill development activities, ranging from learnership costs, learners allowances, etc.


There is a critical need for departments and the Public Service to optimise the existing skills of staff through multi-skill mg. Competency management facilitates the identification of employee development needs that may impact on efficiency and effectiveness. In these circumstances, competency based management can help ensure employees get targeted training that is required to handle increased service delivery demands in the Public Service.

A new system of Public Service education, training and development should be:
· Demand driven, needs- and competency based;
· Supportive of work performance and career development for all Public Service employees;
· Strategically linked to the broader process of transformation and institution building within the Public Service; and
· Strategically linked to the NQF and SAQA frameworks as well as the National Skills Development Strategy and the HRD Strategy for South Africa.

The Skills Development Act provides a concrete strategy and tools to actualise key government legislative and policy imperatives on matters related to development in the Public Service by promulgating the setting up of Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) that will ensure the provision of quality and appropriate education and training in a more sustainable and coordinated manner within the context of the National Qualifications Framework.


A) Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA)

Strategic objective 3 of HRD Strategy of South Africa states that the Department of Public Service and Administration (as well as the PSETA) should specify TRANSVERSAL skills areas that are a priority for the Public Service – in consultation with other government departments.

B) Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority (PSETA)

The PSETA is primarily responsible for transversal training across the entire Public Service. Specific sectoral education and training needs will principally be addressed by line-function SETAs.

The PSETA plays a strong co-ordinating role between SETAs to ensure that the very real training needs of the Public Service are on the agenda of line-function SETAs. It should thus have a very close working relationship with all other SETAs. PSETA will evaluate and approve departmental Workplace Skills Plans and integrate these to develop a Sector Skills Plan.

I) Sector Skills Plan and Workplace Skills Plans

The establishment of the Public Service Education and Training Authority (PSETA) provides the Public Service with the challenge and opportunity to develop and implement a new system of education and training that is coordinated and integrated in ways that accommodate and cater for the needs of individual employees’ and departmental strategic needs. This is to be effected through the implementation of the Sector Skills Plan (SS P) and the Workplace Skills Plans (WSPs).

Departmental WSPs are expected to reflect individual and departmental training priority needs and should facilitate the development of career paths in departments. The WSPs as well as the SSP will be implemented through Learnership programmes, Skills programmes and other strategies that will assist in ensuring that training and education provided is linked to transformation, departmental strategic objectives, and to individual work requirements in order to boost the capacity of departments to deliver high quality service.

The following two objectives should be addressed when developing policies and strategies for operationalisation in the Public Service:

1. All departments and components must become true learning organisations where:
· Strategy, structure and culture of the enterprise become part of the learning system
· The learning of all employees is facilitated and the organisation continuously transforms itself;
· The willingness to accept that learning occurs continuously at all levels and needs to flow freely to where it is needed is displayed; and
· By facilitating and making use of the learning of all their
employees, the knowledge and understanding of themselves
and their environment improves over time.


2. Strengthening the management capacity of training and development units in departments by:
· Developing the skills of HRD managers in all departments;
· keeping and maintaining records on training and development in all the departments; and
· Putting in place uniform and efficient systems in departments.
HRD management
II) Education and Training Quality Assurance

The PSETA is accredited by SAQA to serve as an Education and Training Quality Assurance Body (ETQA). This means that the PSETA will identify and design the standards and qualifications that meet the needs of the Public Sector in as far as transversal training and education issues are concerned.

As an ETQA the PSETA will assess and accredit providers under one or more competencies linked to the NQF. Accredited providers will therefore only be allowed to tender for services in the specified fields or areas in which they have received accreditation. This will ensure the appropriateness and relevance of training provided and enables the PSETA to co-ordinate and monitor the impact of training on job performance and to ensure that those who participate in Jearnership programmes are enabled through the NQF mechanisms to acquire credits towards a qualification and thereby enhance their prospects for work and labour mobility.

The impact of training and education on overall government strategy and goals can only be measured against the Workplace Skills Plans. Well structured monitoring systems to ensure that information collected is relevant to the measuring of actual success versus the agreed upon success indicators must be introduced to each department and province, together with the responsibility of ensuring that the data is continuously updated. This system will need the full cooperation of the Personnel Division, the Human Resource Unit and all line managers must be mandated to provide accurate and timeous information.

Senior managers together with the Human Resource Unit and the Skills Development Facilitators will ensure that the Performance Indicators are agreed upon and that this information is communicated to all line managers.

The PSETA will further:
· Set up a reporting mechanism in line with SAQA requirements;
· Ensure that departments develop Workplace Skills Plans
· Facilitate and monitor the implementation of the Sector Skills Plan
· Develop a framework to guide departments on the utilisation of the skills levy and National Skills Fund;
· Assess the impact of training and education on the overall performance of the Public Service (overall government strategies and goals). This is to be done annually as part of the Sector Skills Plan review; and
Develop criteria as performance indicators for the implementation of the Sector Skills Plan on a yearly basis.

Iii) Learnerships and Skills Programmes

Learnership and skills programmes are occupationally structured learning programmes that are offered by accredited providers and constitute credit(s) towards a qualification within the NQF. The PSETA ensures that a well coordinated education and training takes place in the public service by work with departments to identify and design learnerships, registers learnerships, manages the work of the standards generating bodies, registers assessors provide workplace assessor training, registers and accredit service providers, administers learnership agreements and issues certificates.

C) Departments

All government departments should specify FUNCTIONAL areas that are critical for service delivery, taking due account of the Public Service Sector Skills Plans. Departments should also prepare integrated Workplace Skills Plans that includes both TRANSVERSAL and FUNCTIONAL skills priorities drawn from service delivery targets. Workplace Skills Plans should be submitted to both the PSETA and the line4unction SETA for quality assessment against Public Service and sector priorities respectively. Workplace Skills Plans should be implemented, monitored and evaluated.

Departmental training budgets should be aligned to skills plans. Departments must develop a clearly articulated departmental Human Resource Development policy that provides for the use of the national skills development strategy for the Public Service, throughout the department, and that recognises the diverse nature of the Public Service. Departments must ensure that the training and development of supervisors and managers reflect their responsibility to manage within the context of a Public Service wide perspective. Participation in induction and orientation programmes at all levels is mandatory.

The role of government departments in the realisation of the Public Service HRD
Strategy is important. Apart from drafting their own department specific
strategies, departments should also see to it that the implementation of the
National HRD Strategy is taking place.

Heads of Departments

In terms of the Public Service Amendment Act 86 of 1998, “…the Head of
Department is responsible for the effective training of staff and the efficient management and administration of her/his department…”

Every head of department is responsible and accountable for:
· Ensuring that his/her immediate subordinate managers are given the opportunity to learn within the departmental and Public Service-wide framework
· Ensuring that a departmental HRD strategy, aligned to the national
HRD strategy, is developed and implemented throughout the

Skills Development Facilitators (SDFs)

Key responsibilities for SDFs are:
· To investigate and identify patterns of people development at a strategic level.
· To identify key strategic skills shortages and priorities.
· To collate and assist in the identification and prioritisation of strategic objectives.

Learning Committee
Where organizations exceed 50 employees it is a requirement of the Skills Development Act that a Learning Committee is established. This committee is to be utilized for consultation and endorsement on all skills development issues.

Every manager is responsible for:
Actively ensuring that all his/her employees are given the opportunity to learn within the departmental career development framework;

Every employee is responsible for:
· Determining with his/her supervisor, training and development needs and personal development plans
· Planning and managing with his/her supervisor, learning and career development, in a way that is consistent with the needs of the department and the Public Service at large;


a) Financial Management Learnerships at NQF Level 5, targeting 1000 senior and middle managers
b) IT Skills programmes for end user computing at NQF Level 2 targeting predominantly the supervisors, junior and lower levels.
c) Piloting skills programmes for Lower Graded Workers in Tourism and Security industries at NQF Level 2 to promote self-employment and possible redeployment
d) lnternships for 2000 unemployed graduates
e) Dnoor funded human resources development programmes will continue to provide development opportunities for the public service

Sector Skills Plan and Workplace Skills Plans

Every government department is expected to appoint a Skills Development Facilitator whose main tasks is to develop and implement the departmental Workplace Skills Plan that reflects the department’s strategic objectives as well as the individual worker’s development needs. These Workplace Skills Plans will be incorporated into the relevant SETA’s Sector Skills Plan. The Workplace Skills Plans and the Sector Skills Plans will in turn be implemented through the learnership or skills programmes.

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