SOE skills development programmes not always ending in jobs, qualifications, MPs hear

(Gallo Images / Alet Pretorius)
(Gallo Images / Alet Pretorius)

Despite substantial investment in skills development programmes arranged by the department of public enterprises, this is not always translating into jobs or qualifications, members of Parliament have heard.

On Wednesday, the portfolio committee on public enterprises was briefed by the public enterprises department on jobs created as well as efforts to support women- and youth-owned businesses.

According to a report from the DPE, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have over the past five years been involved in skills development for artisans, engineers and pilots, which aims to lead to a qualification for employment.

Job placements

The DPE said some SOEs place graduates in full-time or contractual employment after training. However, there is a challenge placing learners in on-the-job training at companies, especially Denel.

According to the DPE, well over 20 000 learners had been enrolled in various programmes: for engineering (3 119), as technicians (2 718), as cadet pilots (16), and for sector-specific jobs (8 306). Just under 6 500 learners were enrolled for the strategic youth development initiative.

However, only 11 088 completed courses and only 1 638 were absorbed into SOEs, the department said.

Artisans

The report specifically unpacked the development of skilled artisans.

At the end of 2018, there was a cumulative number of over 9 800 individuals in the artisan trade, with just over half (over 4 900) qualifying in the past five years.

Of these, just over 1 500 were absorbed into SOEs, but the remaining 3 428 went into the labour market.

Over the past seven years, the DPE said, Eskom enrolled the most artisans at nearly 5 000, followed by Transnet with just shy of 3 100. Denel was in a distant third place with 1 019.

Women- and youth-owned enterprises

Spend on youth- and women-owned enterprise development more than doubled over the past five years, MPs heard.

According to the presentation submitted to the committee, procurement spend on these businesses grew from R12.6bn in 2013/14 to R25.9bn by 2017/18, with the bulk of development spend attributed to Eskom (53%) and Transnet (22%).

In the 2017/18 financial year alone, spend on women-owned enterprises totalled R22.34m, and spend on youth enterprises amounted to R3.6m.

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