Dr Raymond Patel
THE MERSETA AIMS TO INCREASE ACCESS TO HIGH QUALITY SKILLS DEVELOPMENT AND TRAININGOPPORTUNITIES IN ORDER TO REDUCE INEQUALITIES AND UNEMPLOYMENT, AS WELL AS TO PROMOTE EMPLOYABILITY AND PARTICIPATION IN THE ECONOMY.
HOW HAVE THE NATURES OF SECTORS MERSETA OPERATES IN EVOLVED OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS?
The merSETA Sector Skills Plan 2013 indicated a trend that is the long-term shift towards a greater proportion of skilled and highly-skilled workers. Emerging trends identified as the ones most likely to have an increasing impact on the performance of the merSETA sectors into the future include the emerging green agenda; environmental impact of manufacturing production; product life-cycle management; increasing global use of social media; and other current global shifts.
DESCRIBE MERSETA’S BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY.
The merSETA regards itself as a leader in closing the skills gap in the engineering and manufacturing sectors. We approach this through focused skills development that is directed at sustainable scarce skill development. Our operations are closely aligned tothe National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) as set out bythe government.
The merSETA has derived its objectives from the NSDS III. Part of the merSETA philosophy is building an effective and cooperative partnership between business, labour, and higher education authorities.
WHAT HAS BEEN MERSETA’S DEFINING MOMENT
AS A BUSINESS?
The merSETA has enjoyed numerous success stories over the years, but the Accelerated Artisan Training Programme (AATP) placed the merSETA at the forefront of sector education and training authorities (SETA) that are responsive to the most urgent strategic priorities. The AATP feeds directly into the needs of the National Development Plan which aims to match artisan supply and demand.
DESCRIBE MERSETA’S WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING.
The merSETA pursues the development of a skilled workforce within the manufacturing, engineering, and related services sectors. Its scope of coverage is determined by the Minister of Higher Education and Training in terms of the Skills Development Act 97 of 1998. NSDS can be seen as an umbrella tactical guide for skills development and provides direction to sector skills planning and implementation to SETAs. The merSETA plays a central role in making sure that the NSDS is fulfilled.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE COMPANY’S MOST IMPORTANT FUNCTION AS A LEADER IN ITS SECTOR?
Bringing the discussion of skills demand and supply together in a more structured way highlights the broad categories of skills development needs for the sector. These include technical skills; fundamental work-readiness skills (the basic skills necessary for safe and efficient production); health and safety skills; HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention; Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET); Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL); the development of black managers; skills to address environmental issues; growing green agenda; and the training and development of retrenched workers.
WHAT IS MERSETA’S VISION FOR IMPROVING
SERVICES FOR ITS STAKEHOLDERS?
The merSETA has specific projects in place to ensure high level stakeholder satisfaction. These include; an ISO accredited quality management system, an innovation drive to continuously improve the services that we provide which not only measures satisfaction, but anticipates future stakeholder needs.
WHAT HAS PROVEN TO BE THE COMPANY’S
GREATEST CHALLENGE TO DATE?
The greatest challenge for the merSETA is to achieve development of the sector while simultaneously achieving outcomes consistent with decent work, equity and sector economic growth and employment. There needs to be more work done to align industry needs with national development imperatives, policy directives, and DHET priorities.
Other challenges include budgetary constraints as year-on- year applications for discretionary grants by companies still significantly exceed available funds. South Africa is also faced with inadequate skill levels and poor work-readiness; employment and education policy and the contradiction between demand and supply; continuing skills shortages in artisan, technical, and professional fields fundamental to economic growth.
HOW DO MERSETA’S CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY INITIATIVES CONTRIBUTE TO THE COMPANY’S
BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY AND SOCIAL RESPONSIVENESS
IN SOUTH AFRICA?
As leaders in bridging the skills gap, the merSETA deemsit within their skills development mandate to facilitate partnerships between education and training institutions and member companies and participating employers in such a way thatCSI initiatives align to the business imperatives of participating employers.
With the various CSI initiatives, the merSETA’s objective is to align with national imperatives by contributing to economic growth and transformation through the upliftment of communities by facilitating collaborative partnerships between member companies and participating employers, and training and education institutions within South Africa.
• A CSI initiative will comprise of a partnership between a member company and an education and training institution.
• The CSI initiative will benefit disadvantaged persons or communities.
• It must be aimed at improving social circumstances.
• The initiative must make a sustainable difference to recipients or their surrounding community.
• The initiative must integrate into the overall human capital development strategy of the member company in that it comprises an investment in their future workforce.
• CSI initiatives will focus on improving aspects of skills development and education and training in learning institutions.
The merSETA believes that they are in the ideal position to link eager member companies to learning institutions that are in desperate need for support and investment.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR
The “Decade of the Artisan” is now official government policy and accentuates a new way of thinking that will encourage the merSETA to grow from strength to strength. The world is in a revolutionary era with innovation being at the forefront. The merSETA has to facilitatethe paradigm shift of old ways of thinking tothat of the new world if we are to keep up with global demands.
Looking ahead, the merSETA is supportive of the new Broad-Based Black Empowerment codes of good practice and recently advertised for black women to be trained in management positions.