By Mzwandile Mamaila, Cape Business News Journalist
SOUTH African SETAs increase skills development and training. This initiative enhances the chances of employability and brings structural transformation and growth to the economy.
The lack of skills and training contributes to South Africa’s high poverty and unemployment rate. Fortunately, some initiatives seek to train and equip people who lack practical skills and training, increasing their chances of employability.
In March 2000, Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA) were introduced to assist with developing the skills of unemployed South Africans. SETAs identify a person’s theoretical skills and aim to improve those skills by providing practical training. When participating in a SETA programme, new skills will be taught or enhancement of already existing skills.
SETAs provide skills development and training through Learnerships, Skills Programmes, Internships, Apprenticeships, Bursaries, Candidacies, and Adult Education. There are various sectors that SETAs offer training in, such as Agriculture, Hospitality, Business, and Banking.
South Africa consists of 21 SETAs funded by the Skills Development Levy (SDL). The SDL is a 1% fee paid by businesses. This fee is subtracted from the total annual salaries paid to employees. The SDL was introduced after the Skills Development Act 97 of 1998. This act encouraged the growth of knowledge and competencies in workspaces and aimed to improve productivity and employability. Working coherently with this act is section 11 and 12 of the SDL acts. This section states that companies that fail to pay the SDL on time should be fined, with 10% added interest to their SDL payment.
According to CATHSSETA Regional Manager for the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, and Western Cape Region, Martha Collet, there has been an increase in the demand for SETA training programmes and an uptake in participants in the past few years. Unfortunately, there are not enough funds to cater to every applicant. “We receive our funds from the levies, and we have lost funding from some businesses due to COVID-19,” she stated, highlighting how businesses have stopped paying the SDL due to Covid – 19.
Even though employers received a four-month payment holiday, which excused them from paying the SDL from the 1st of May 2020 to the 31st of August 2020, some businesses required an extended holiday. “We are recovering. It’s an industry recovery, so it’s quite normal,” Collet added with hope, believing that all companies will recover from the harm caused by COVID–19 and disputing that some companies intentionally stopped paying the SDL for personal reasons either than COVID-19.
It is still questionable whether the fines and added interest to late SDL payers have been charged to businesses who have stopped paying the SDL, as stipulated in sections 11 and 12 of the SDL acts. However, Collet stated that they increased their stakeholder base, highlighting how CATHSSETA has tried to find alternative funding.