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SA: Dr Blade Nzimande, Address by Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, on the occasion of Fibre Processing and Manufacturing Sector Education and Training Authority (FP&M SETA) Skills Development Summit 2022 (15/03/22)


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SA: Dr Blade Nzimande, Address by Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, on the occasion of Fibre Processing and Manufacturing Sector Education and Training Authority (FP&M SETA) Skills Development Summit 2022 (15/03/22)

Image of Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande

15th March 2022


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Programme Director;
FP & M SETA Board Chairperson, Advocate Michelle Odayan;
Board members present;
FP & M SETA Chief Executive Officer, Dr Felleng Yende;
Representatives of the Cape Media Corporation;
Distinguished presenters;
Ministry staff, all government officials present;
Providers of Education and Training, both Public and Private;
Employers, Labour Representatives and our Key Stakeholders in the Sector;
Distinguished Guests;
Members of the media;
Ladies & gentlemen.

Good morning!!!


It is my pleasure to be addressing this virtual Leadership Skills Development Summit hosted by the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing (FP&M) Seta in partnership with the Cape Media Corporation.

Career guidance is a very important aspect, and integral dimension, of education systems.


As an interested party, government, as a vehicle for the expression of the values and preferences of communities and our societies in general, developed policies, established institutions and allocated both human as well as financial resources to enable the realisation of the educational and knowledge aspirations of our citizens.

Like many developing countries, South Africa’s labour market in anticipating the demand for what is regarded as the 21st Century Skills, operates within the context influenced by global trends in technology, migration, urbanisation, demographics, foreign direct investment, education, agriculture and the environment. These trends changes the nature of work and access to it.

It cannot be denied that the major part of the skills sets will now be driven by the 4IR, as will the demand for individual inter-social attributes associated with team- and project-based work, project management, problem-solving skills, and the ability to acquire and continuously update individual skills through self-directed or peer-to-peer learning.

When looking beyond the drivers of demand for 21st Century Skills, estimations show that the global labour market workforce of 2030 will comprise 3.5 billion workers most of whom will be unskilled and based in developing countries.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), it is anticipated that the labour force will decrease in Central Asia, China, Europe, North America and high-income countries in East Asia, while the sub-Saharan Africa labour force is projected to increase by 328 million.

Based on this, there will be a predicted global shortage of 38–40 million highly-skilled workers, with the greatest demand being for graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

This is a shortage of nearly 45 million medium-skilled workers in developing countries, brought about by low rates of high school enrolment and a global surplus of 90 million low-skilled workers.

For developing countries such as South Africa, this implies that we ought to equip our low-skilled youth with foundational literacy, numeracy and STEM skills.

However, the attainment of these objectives remains a challenge as South Africa continues to face an ever-increasing number of people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET).

The South African government has taken a decision to expand access and diversify articulated education and training provision, as well as improving the quality of our Post-School Education and Training system’s responsiveness to the world of work.

We have structured our PSET institutions to offer a diversity of programmes not only to take account of the needs of the youth who completed schooling, but also for those who did not complete their schooling.

Ladies and gentlemen, it should remain as a concern to all of us that over 3.4 million young South Africans, aged 15-24 are disengaged from education and work.

The youth unemployment rate, measuring job-seekers between 15 and 24 years old, has hit a new record high of 66.5%.

Two million of our youth have not finished Grade 12, while some of them are working in the informal economy, with our unemployment rate at 34.9%.

This was the highest jobless rate since comparable data began in 2008 on the back of the July unrests and the lockdowns.

Government is now seized with using its own resources and internal capabilities to deal with the school-to-work transition, by investing a significant portion of its budget to support our youth with learnerships and internships and other government funded programmes that help to create mass employment.

We all know that our failure to integrate many people into the labour market threatens social cohesion and in the South Africa context, especially also because of the over-representation of black South Africans in the NEET population.

In order for us to collectively deal with this concern, we need to ensure that we provide opportunities for upskilling and reskilling of our communities.

Our universities, TVET Colleges and CET colleges have strengthened their qualifications and curricula as required by our national economy and the world of work.

This is to ensure that the PSET sector produces graduates who are work relevant, and more importantly, who are able to participate, grow and develop the South African economy and help in the local job creation drive and the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP).

We have also initiated different programmes aimed at encouraging young people to become artisans.

This is aimed at developing qualified artisans to support the South African economy, particularly in light of the successful implementation of the Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SPIs) over the last decade. The theme of this campaign was “It’s cool to be a 21st century artisan”.

In 2017, the department started with the establishment of Centres of Specialisation in more than 20 of our TVET colleges focusing on thirteen (13) designated trades.

Centres of Specialisation in the TVET College sector is a programme which aims to promote and strengthen different and diverse programme offerings, promote quality teaching and learning, facilitate responsiveness and provide a model for the implementation of Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTOs) trade qualifications at the same time, as it develops artisanal skills.

In relations to these new qualifications, my Department of Higher Education and Training has generated the scarce, critical skills, and occupations in high demand lists to guide programme offerings and student enrolments in the Post School Education and Training (PSET) institutions.

Many of the occupations on the lists mentioned above can be associated with key areas and sectors identified as crucial for the Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, such as the digital economy, energy, infrastructure development, manufacturing, tourism and agriculture, data scientists, web developer, computer network technician, electrical engineer, concentrated solar power process controller, mechatronic technician, toolmaker, gaming worker, crop produce analyst, agricultural scientist, just to name a few.

Government has also begun the process to craft the Master Skills Plan, which aims to achieve the all-important one country one skills plan. This process will promote a more efficient and effective mechanism for country-wide skills planning.

The master skills plan will draw on the information available in existing plans, such as the National Skills Development Plan, Human Resource Development Strategy, Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, ERRP Skills Strategy, National Plan for Post School Education and Training, SETA Skills Sector Skills Plan, Master Economic Sector Plans, and National, Provincial and Local Government Skills Plans.

Ladies and gentlemen

Another important area of focus for us is training, particularly the role that will be played by our Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).

We have twenty-one (21) SETAs operating almost in every sector of our economy, a resource that most countries in the world would wish to have.

Our SETA landscape comprises, in the main, of representatives of Organised Business and Organised Labour operating in designated sectors of the economy and public sector.

In my response to the President State of the Nation Address (SONA), I confirmed our commitment to ensure that our skills development system will be offering about 100 000 workplace-based learning opportunities, including but not limited to, learnerships, apprenticeships as well as internships.

In addition to the workplace-based learning opportunities, for the Financial Year 2022/23, we are targeting 20 500 opportunities for apprentices and 22 500 for artisanal trades.

For this current financial year, the National Skills Fund (NSF) in partnership with the Presidency has allocated R100million towards the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative which will benefit 4500 learners in the digital learning space.

The NSF has committed R200million to employment creation initiatives between the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Department of Employment and Labour through the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). This project will benefit more than 5000 unemployed youth.

Quite a number of Request for Proposals have been posted in the media inviting skills development providers to participate in projects which are targeting worker education and empowerment and also assist the community of our people living with disabilities. The total value of these projects is in excess of R200million and will assist more than 2000 beneficiaries.

The NSF has finalised an important policy which will regulate unsolicited proposals (proposals initiated by the Skills Development Providers themselves) through their skills development creativity and innovation. These are often initiatives from communities and training service providers to respond to the varied skills demands from our communities.

I must indicate that we have received a lot of these proposals and they are currently being considered for due diligence purposes. The total amount allocated for the unsolicited proposals will exceed R1.5billion in this current financial year.

We estimate that this will benefit more than 20000 beneficiaries in various skills development areas.

We are also doing some other phenomenal work with our 21 SETAs. For an example, the FP&M SETA, which is a host of this Summit today, at Endaleni in Richmond in KZN, is working together with uMngungundlovu TVET College, offer occupational qualification, such as garment construction, furnisher making, Information Technology with free wifi for students, in a shoe making centre of excellence.  FP&M SETA also established a new innovation hub.

I must also extend my appreciation to the FP&M SETA for having placed approximately 2 200 learners in the FP&M sector in the last 5 years and for fully supporting the TVET graduate placement programme.

I must also indicate that FP&M SETA is one of the best performing SETAs in our country. For the past three years it has been achieving 100% of its targets and received fifth unqualified clean audit opinion inclusive of the financial year 2020/21. 

Our SETAs will also be supporting my Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) in the development of critical high-end skills in selected technology areas such as the bioeconomy, space science, technology energy, and intellectual property management.

In order to continue to offer mass skills to our communities, we are also partnering with faith based organisations, such as the Catholic Church through their Thabiso Skills centres and the Methodist church to provide much needed skills to communities. This is part of building a strong, effective and responsive community education and training sector, to cater for a variety of youth and adults’ skills needs for those who have left schools.

We further intend to partner with more other faith-based organisations to further our skills development drive.

I also wish to call upon all employers to open their workplaces for the placement of both TVET college students as well as to give workplace exposure to TVET college lecturers, so that they teach and train in what is currently needed by industry.

Ladies and gentlemen

My Department of Science and Innovation has been mobilising across the National System of Innovation (NSI), especially among its entities and the entities of sister departments, specific initiatives that are currently being fast-tracked to support the government's response to the skills revolution of our country.

Our STI missions and priority areas for the next 10 years are detailed in our Decadal Plan which is the implementation plan for South Africa’s new White Paper on Science Technology and Innovation. The Decadal Plan covers the period 2022-2031 and was approved by Cabinet in 2019.

This plan is firmly contextualised within the implementation of South Africa’s National Development Plan.

The work that we are doing in the Decadal plan is to align the development of human capabilities with different master skills plans of different industries.

The plan sets out several interventions.

Enhancing enrolment planning to ensure a better mix of students in the PSET system that corresponds to the priority areas South Africa’s economy;

Working together with National Treasury to ensure a more sustainable financial ecosystem for student funding;

Integrating the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAS) and State- owned Enterprises in partnership with universities to build R&D skills responding to the challenges of 4IR;

Continuous review of the Programme and Qualification Mix (PQM);

Planning and implementing a digital platform for post-graduate student tracking to enable government to pin-point where to invest; identify where students go when they graduate; where they are more active and draw lessons from that data;

Investing in skills forecasting capabilities; and

Supporting entrepreneurship development.

Through the National Research Foundation (NRF), we have awarded more than 3000 research grants at various research-performing institutions in our country.

These includes grants earmarked to support emerging and established researchers through various programmes such as the New Generation of Academics Programme, NRF-rated researchers, established and unrated researchers, the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARCHi) and the Centres of Excellence.

As I conclude, I must declare upfront that as a government our commitment to education is unshakeable.

We will continue to provide the education and training opportunities that provide our youth and adults with the skills that are needed by our economy.

Let me take this opportunity to thank the FP&M SETA Board Chairperson, Advocate Michelle Odayan, Dr Felleng Yende and the entire personnel of FP&M SETA and the leadership of the Cape Media Corporation for hosting this skills summit.

I hope this input has given the appropriate and relevant context to career guidance, through identification of education and training opportunities being pursued by my Ministry.

I wish you all a successful summit.

Thank you for your attention.


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