In 2014, the Minister of Higher Education launched 2014-2024 as the decade of the artisan. Increasing the number of artisans produced from 18 000 to 24 000 per annum was identified as a measurable target for the 2014-2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework. Currently South Africa has a shortfall of 40 000 qualified artisans. The Sector Education and Training Authorities ( SETAs) and the National Skills Fund are responsible for scaling up artisan development.
Skills Development levies are distributed to the National Skills Fund (20%) and the Sector Education and Training Authorities (80%). On 18 November 2015, the National Skills Authority (NSA) briefed the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education on the overall SETA performance for 2014/15. The previous week, the National Skills Fund reported on their work.
The Committee Chairperson, Ms Yvonne Phosa, had in April this year expressed her concern about the performance of the 21 SETAs saying that they are not carrying out that their responsibility well. The Committee insisted that they receive quarterly reports from the SETAs. At this week's meeting, the National Skills Authority (NSA) was told to bring the SETAs into line with its objective of getting people learning on the job in critical skills. Many companies have complained that the money that they are forced to contribute to SETAs is going down the drain. The overall surplus held by the 21 SETAs is R5 billion. The SETAs have this huge surplus due to their lack of capacity to spend the money.
It has been suggested that SETA surplus funds could cover the R2.33 billion shortfall in university funding due to the 0% increase for 2016. However, this has been met with fierce resistance from industry. They point out that this is money that should be spent on artisan development but is not because of SETA underperformance.
When the National Skills Fund reported on their work, the Committee noted the difference between enrolment figures and student pass rates and employability. It was not helpful to be told how many students had been enrolled, because all of them may be failing. The Committee also asked about underspending and the NSF conceded that underspending had been a problem as procurement for building nine new technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges had caused delays in construction.
See infographic below for more information on the SETAs and the National Skills Fund efforts towards artisan development this past year: