Minister of Higher Education and Training applauds the Evaluation Report on the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS III) by the National Skills Authority
In October 2016 the National Skills Authority (NSA) commissioned a consortium of researchers to evaluate the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS III). The study set out to evaluate the design of NSDS III and its implementation from 2011 to 2016. It also explored impact. The evaluation was carried out between October 2016 and August 2018. The study included: desk research; learner and financial data analysis; interviews and focus groups; a survey of employers; tracer studies of learners; and case studies of NSDS implementation. The two-year study has now been completed and the report accepted by the NSA and the Minister of Higher Education and Training. It will now be the subject of extensive stakeholder engagement and its recommendations acted on.
The skills development levy brought in an income of about R63 billion over the period 2011 to 2016. Annual income currently runs at around R18 billion a year. Public service departments nationally and in provinces had around R19 billion ‘ring-fenced’ to spend on skills development during the period 2011-16. In addition, many employers devote additional resources to the challenge of raising skills levels of existing workers and producing the skills needed in a diverse and changing labour market. 21 Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) are responsible for implementation in partnership with a wide range of government and industry stakeholders. The study focused on the transformative imperatives, specifically the targeted groups such as youth, women, people living with disabilities, HIV/AIDS. The study recognised that the unemployment situation has not changed despite policy attention and interventions from a range of private and public entities. From the data received from the SETAs, more that 70% youth were enrolled in learning programmes, 42933 placed in internships in the five years and 61802 bursaries awarded. The employers surveyed confirmed that training contributed to improved work readiness of you people entering the workplace and more partnerships were formed with organisations and business to absorb youth trained by SETAs.
During the period under review, almost 1.1 million people were funded by SETAs and 330 000 were funded by the National Skills Fund – just over 1.4 million beneficiaries – between 2011 and 2016.
Key successes – what has worked well?
- During the period since 2011 there has been an overall
shift of focus, including:
- more effective targeting of resources to NSDS goals;
- more attention paid to government strategies and priorities; and
- greater levels of collaboration between SETAs , skills development stakeholders and the public PSET system.
- Research capacity into skills development and TVET has been strengthened.
- Good quality career guides have been produced, explaining the learning pathways to occupations in demand.
- Artisan training and apprenticeships have been revived. Public TVET colleges are now playing an important role in the production of artisans.
- There has been effective channeling of available funds to: scarce skills/occupations in demand in each sector; particularly artisan trades.
- Learnerships, apprenticeships and internships have been the main focus of skills development funding, and these have been found to be effective in meeting skills needs of employers and enabling those graduating to obtain employment.
- The main focus of spending during the period has been young people and in particular those aged under 25 and not in any form of education, training or employment.
- There has been an expanded number of people accessing middle and higher level programmes (NQF levels 4-8), whilst maintaining programmes at levels 1-3 on the NQF targeted at those with lower levels of formal education.
- Role of state-owned enterprises in skills development has been revived.
- Strategic Infrastructure Projects have been supported with skills development and have helped build important skills for future projects.
- Participants (employers, workers and learners) report positive changes, including improved absorption of those qualifying, raised productivity, improved income.
- Skills development has been expanded in the public service, in particular for new entrants, and the funding problems of such programmes has been addressed.
- There has been a sound focus in allocating resources on achieving equity in relation to race and gender, fair distribution geographically and an emphasis on blue collar workers and working-class learners.
Although there has been an overall shift of focus achieved during the five year period, there are gaps and shortfalls:
- There was limited progress in aligning skills development to industrial strategy and plans. Partnerships between Industrial strategy stakeholders and skills development institutions are weak and uneven.
- In building the relationship between skills development and the public PSET system the emphasis has often been on public institutions accessing SETA and NSF funding. There has been a drift from the intention of the Skills Development Act.
- Although skills development and TVET research has been strengthened, capacity in DHET and the SETAs to manage and interpret research remains weak.
- Career guides are not reaching those who needed them and are not being used to inform career and study choices.
- Throughput and pass rates for apprenticeships and learnerships are very low, with consequent high levels of wastage.
- Although there are examples of skills development supporting industrial strategy, the relationships between industrial strategy and skills development stakeholders are weak.
- The skills development system is mainly benefitting large employers, bypassing small and micro enterprises, including cooperatives, and not touching the informal sector.
- Targets have not been met for people with disabilities. They continue to face disadvantage in the labour market.
- Governance remains a challenge, with serious difficulties in holding institutions to account.
The evaluation report includes 48 detailed recommendations that can be summarised as follows:
- Focus on the economy and the skills needs of industry. The national strategy and implementation plans for skills development should be reviewed with the intention of directing the collective efforts of all stakeholders on building a demand-led skills system that focuses on inclusive economic growth. Demand-led means that the current and future skills needs of employers as well as the future skills needs associated with industrial strategy for growth drive skills strategy.
- Plan for immediate, medium and long-term outputs and outcomes. Skills development to support the economy is complex and takes place in a wide range of contexts. This means that planning must include the establishment of multi-stakeholder structures, systems and processes. Some outputs can be achieved speedily but many outcomes may take many years to achieve. Realistic and costed targets need to be set for the short, medium and longer term.
- Manage and achieve more with available funds. A financial strategy should be developed that clarifies who should fund what, maximises the use of, and return from, available funds, prioritises a small number of costed projects, improves cash flow management, and reduces waste by improving throughput rates. There should be a shift in focus of the NSF towards community based skills development programmes targeted at the unemployed. The NDP target of 30 000 artisans a year needs to be reviewed and costed, including reviewing the grant amount.
- Reposition the skills system. Structure should follow strategy. Once a revised strategy is agreed there should be a review of the structures and allocation of resources within the structures. Future employment growth is likely to be in small rather than larger companies. The skills system should be more flexible and responsive to the needs of small and micro enterprises and the informal economy. This will require the reallocation of resources to achieve more hands on support to those engaging in skills development. SETAs need to change from being administrators of grants to being brokers or facilitators of skills development. The skills profile of those employed in SETAs needs to change to achieve this.
- Governance should be streamlined, and oversight and accountability strengthened. Currently there are 21 SETA boards, a National Skills Authority with responsibilities that are overlapping with those of Nedlac. Accounting authorities should be reduced and rationalized, and accountability mechanisms clarified. In the long-term consideration should be given to establishing a single skills council.
The report was launched by the Minister of Higher Education and Training Mrs Naledi Pandor on the 14 March 2019 at the National Skills Conference.
National Skills Authority
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