'Setas are here to stay'

Sectoral education and training authorities (Setas) are here to stay, Minister of Labour Membathisi Mdladlana said on Monday about the oft-criticised learning institutions.

Speaking at the launch of Thuthuka, a programme in the government’s National Skills Development Strategy at the Mokopane Training Centre in Limpopo, Mdladlana said Setas are playing a critical role in providing skills to the majority of the country’s unemployed and the previously disadvantaged.

“Government is committed to ensuring that Setas play a part in reshaping the economy,” the minister said.

The National Skills Strategy has enabled millions of South Africans to be trained, he added.

“We are not going to scrap the Setas. On the contrary, we are going to do what we can to strengthen them,” he added.

The Thuthuka programme is co-funded by the department’s National Skills Fund and the Financial and Accounting Services Sector Education and Training Authority (Fasset).

It forms part of the government’s multimillion-rand social-development project and seeks to provide support for the upgrading of accounting, mathematics and English qualifications for grade 11 and 12 pupils from rural and disadvantaged areas.

The project is being extended to Limpopo after starting in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

It collectively represents the government’s commitment and investment in skills development, valued at more than R1-billion over a period of three years, Mdladlana’s department said in a statement.

Mdladlana commended Fasset for initiating the project.

“It is the historic duty of our government to reverse the distortions of the past. Education and training is the key towards realising this ideal,” he said.

Seta critics, including Mdladlana, have often hammered the institutions for inefficiency, sloth and corruption.

The latest attack on Setas came in Sunday’s Business Times from Helmuth Fischer, last week elected president of the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa.

He said the new skills development strategy led to the abandonment of traditional apprenticeships in favour of learnerships.

“This resulted in a disastrous drop in apprentice intake in our industry,” Fischer said.

“Fortunately, a number of companies doubted the effectiveness of a strategy worked out by a new guard that in all likelihood had not spent one day of their lives in factories. Those companies continued with apprentice training, only to be vindicated today.”—Sapa

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