South Africa: Nzimande outlines new skills strategy

Press briefing by the Minister of Higher Education and Training on the launch of the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) III

13 Jan 2011

New National Skills Development Strategy III

Services Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) CEOs, Chairpersons and Deputy Chairpersons of the Boards, The Chairperson of the National Security Agency (NSA) and other NSA members, Members of the Higher Education and Training Portfolio Committee, members of the press and others who I have not mentioned by name.

The purpose of today’s press briefing is to launch the new National Skills Development Strategy III (NSDS3).

Towards the end of 2009, after careful consideration and consultation with the NSA, I extended the current NSDS II for a period of one year to allow sufficient time to consult widely on the development of NSDS III and to undertake the SETA landscape review. In November 2010, I announced the new SETA landscape. I further delayed the release of NSDS III until today, to ensure that we gave careful consideration to comments received as well a close study of research that has been done on the challenges and achievements since the inception of the Skills Development Act.

Significant work was done during the periods of NSDS I and II, and many important building blocks were put in place. However, the economy remains constrained by a severe lack of skills, and so the skills development system as a whole has not yet achieved what was expected.

This strategy draws on lessons learned from NSDS I and II. The key driving force of this strategy is improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the skills development system. This strategy represents an explicit commitment to encouraging the linking of skills development to career paths, career development and promoting sustainable employment and in-work progression. The emphasis is particularly on those who do not have relevant technical skills or adequate reading, writing and numeracy skills to enable them to access employment.

The strategy promotes partnerships between employers, public education institutions (FET  colleges, universities of technologies and universities), private training providers and SETAs, to ensure that cross-sectoral and inter-sectoral needs are addressed.

The NSDS will be guided by, and measured against, several key developmental and transformation imperatives: race, class, gender, geographic considerations, and age differences, as well as disability and the HIV and AIDS pandemic. My own department will monitor and evaluate the role of all our institutions in the skills development system, guided by these key transformational priorities.

NSDS III addresses the scope and mandate of the SETAs. SETAs are expected to facilitate the delivery of sector-specific skills interventions that help achieve the goals of NSDS III, address employer demand and deliver results. They must be the authority on labour market intelligence and ensure that skills needs and strategies to address these needs are set out clearly in sector skills plans. They must be recognised experts in relation to skills demand in their sectors. NSDS III provides a stronger base for the SETAs and Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), through service level agreements, to set targets that align with sector skills needs – that is, there is no one-size-fits-all – and ensures an improved focus on the core mandate of SETAs.

Another key institution in ensuring the success of NSDS III is the National Skills Fund, which is a catalytic fund, enabling the state to drive key skills strategies as well as meet the training needs of the unemployed, non levy-paying cooperatives, NGOs and community structures and vulnerable groups. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is a national resource which will be used to both initiate and respond to national skills priorities.

The strategy places great emphasis on relevance, quality and sustainability of skills training programmes to ensure that they impact positively on poverty reduction and the eradication of inequalities. It focuses on eight goals, each with accompanying outcomes and outputs which will be used as the basis for monitoring and evaluating NSDS implementation and impact.


There is currently no institutional mechanism that provides credible information and analysis with regard to the supply and demand for skills.

Goal 1: Establishing a credible institutional mechanism for skills planning

Will ensure that the national need in relation to skills development is researched, documented and communicated to enable effective planning across all economic sectors. South Africa faces a shortage of intermediate skills, especially artisanal skills. The intention is to ensure that 10,000 artisans per year qualify with relevant skills and find employment.

In relation to higher level professional qualifications, whereas the enrolment and participation rate in our university sector is higher than that of the vocational education and training sector, it is still not producing enough appropriately skilled and qualified people in disciplines central to social and economic development. Many of the professional areas of study combine course work at Higher Education Institutions with structured learning at work. To give greater effect to such programmes and ensure greater employer participation, a PIVOTAL grant has been incorporated into NSDS III. The intention is that 10% of the mandatory grant will be dedicated to this initiative.

Goal 2: Increasing access to occupationally-directed programmes, both intermediate level as well as higher level professional qualifications

Speaks to the above imperatives. The public Further Education and Training (FET) college system is central to government’s programmes of skilling and reskilling the youth and adults of South Africa. Its transformation is key to the integration of education and training and responding to the skills needs in our country.

Goal 3: Promoting the growth of a public FET college system that is responsive to sector, local, regional and national skills needs and priorities

Will address challenges in this regard. This includes promoting partnerships between DHET, SETAs, employers, private providers and public FET colleges to increase capacity to meet industry and developmental needs of the country.

Language, literacy and numeracy skills are fundamental to improved economic and social participation, productivity and social inclusion. In South Africa, there are approximately 3 million youths between the ages of 18 and 24 years who are not in employment, education or training, have a poor educational foundation and are poorly prepared to undertake further learning.

Goal 4: Addressing the low level of youth and adult language and numeracy skills to enable additional training

Will develop a national strategy to provide all young people leaving school with an opportunity to engage in training or work experience, and improve their employability.

Goal 5: Encouraging better use of workplace-based skills development

Seeks to address the training of employed workers in order to improve productivity and the overall growth and development of our economy. Skills development is not just about training people for employment; it must also empower people to create opportunities to make a living for themselves. NSDS III will support cooperative, NGO, small enterprise, community and worker-initiated skills development and training programmes. Similarly, the NSF will support credible and quality worker skills development, education and training programmes. This is highlighted in:

Goal 6: Encouraging and supporting cooperatives, small enterprises, worker-initiated, NGO and community training initiatives

Goal 7: Increasing public sector capacity for improved service delivery and supporting the building of a developmental state

Addresses the challenge of public sector capacity. This is taking on renewed importance due to the affirmation by government of the need for a developmental state, capable of intervening in the economy to build an inclusive growth path.

The final goal.

Goal 8: Building career and vocational guidance.

Addresses the lack of guidance to direct young people in particular to programmes for which they have an aptitude and which will provide training in areas needed in the economy. Implementing the NSDS III is a collective responsibility of all stakeholders and partners in skills development. We must remember the government’s slogan that TOGETHER, WE CAN DO MORE.

My department will play a leading role in ensuring that the goals and objectives of the NSDS III are realised. You may have noticed that NSDS III does not include specific targets. The intention is that out of this strategy, DHET will develop annual implementation plans, including specific targets where appropriate. I will announce these on an annual basis, and DHET will build the necessary capacity for effective monitoring, evaluation and support to the entire skills development system and its institutions.

However, some of these targets are already contained in my performance agreement with the President, and additional targets will be contained in my 2011 budget vote speech. A clear framework and institutional measures are being developed for this. We are moving away from an exclusive focus on quantitative measures of impact and success. Instead, the monitoring and evaluation of this strategy will also focus on qualitative indicators, because it is important to evaluate the impact of the initiatives in this strategy and ensure that the programmes provided meet the required quality and relevance.

As I had announced late last year we are setting up a task team on the improvement of SETA capacity to meet the goals of the NSDS III. This task team will be led by the General Secretary of the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), Mr Fikile Majola.

The DHET is also undertaking a comprehensive review on the spending priorities of the National Skills Fund, in order to reprioritise its funding allocations in line with the goals of NSDS III and our overarching Human Resources Development Strategy for South Africa.

Thank you.

Issued by: Department of Higher Education and Training, January 13 2011

Source – PoliticsWeb