Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The government is looking to reduce the number of sector education and training authorities (Setas) as part of broader plans to revamp the post-school education and training system.

There are currently 21 Setas, which cover all work sectors. The Setas are tasked with creating opportunities in the form of internships, skills programmes and apprenticeships. They control billions of rand via a skills levy derived from all employers who have more than 50 workers.

They receive more than R14bn in ring-fenced funds annually and are governed by boards made up of labour and employer representatives.

However, the Setas have often been criticised for inefficiency, being a haven for corruption and for enrolling ghost students. They have also come under fire for failing to address the country’s skills deficit.

Officials from the Department of Higher Education and Training told MPs on Wednesday that as part of plans to improve efficiency and avoid duplication, there was a proposal to reduce the number of Setas.

After the approval of the National Skills Development Plan, the reduction of the number of Setas was proposed. It could result in Setas that focus on similar sectors merging, such as the AgriSeta and the Food and Beverage Manufacturing Industry Seta, as well as the finance, banking and insurance Setas.

The department said a government gazette on the Seta classification informed by the above-mentioned criteria would be issued for public comment in 2018, in order to gazette the legislation and institutional arrangements by 2019.

These changes are intended to improve the quality and relevance of the post-school education and training system, and ensure greater coherence of the system while also rationalising and streamlining of institutional and functional overlaps. There are also proposed amendments to the Seta constitution to strengthen governance and accountability.

Business and labour has proposed that a national skills and employment council be established to steer the strategic policy and the monitoring and evaluation of the skills system — in other words, the council would determine all strategic priorities and thus the funding allocations. However, a separate institution — the national skills agency — would administer and process payments.

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