|Training World View: South African Progress|
By Anne Newman, Nkhabele Marumo, Lynn Hunt and Catherine Mercer Bing
Enthusiasm and funding for training, backed by government requirements and a growing economy, augurs well for development into the future.
Training in South Africa has undergone a great deal of change since the first democratic election in 1994, when all South Africans voted a new government into office. After years of apartheid when developmental opportunities were subject to classification and job reservation, it was necessary to change the face of labor legislation to provide people previously disadvantaged by the system with access to training and development. This gave rise to a variety of interrelated laws designed to redress the discrimination of the past and to open doors for people who had been excluded under the laws of apartheid.
The majority of South Africa's population further was disadvantaged by the disparate education systems that aimed to keep Black South Africans in the role of "hewers of wood and drawers of water" to use the words of apartheid social engineer Hendrik Verwoerd, while providing superior education for White children. The vast impact of this still hampers education today as many schools still do not have basic facilities such as classrooms and electricity, and there are still far too many illiterate adults and children.
The laws that affect adult training and education in South Africa include:
Today, organizations in South Africa place a strong emphasis on developing skills to deal with the paradox of high unemployment and a skills shortage. Organizations are required to conduct skills surveys to determine the education levels and the potential for development in their people, and to put skills development plans in place. Money companies pay into the Skills Levy (to the Receiver of Revenue) can be claimed back when suitable training is implemented.Many organizations also are focusing on succession planning, often driven from an assessment base where competency profiling is done against a competency framework, and people go through a process of identifying their strengths and potential development areas. Comprehensive development programs then are designed based on assessment findings and organizational needs. A particular feature of this process is the assessment of potential for learning and development, given the still-evident impact of the poor education systems of the past (and the present, in some cases), where school and university results cannot be regarded as a good predictor of potential (unlike in other countries). This has put South Africa at the forefront of this aspect of assessment of potential, which does not tap into education levels but rather into thinking skills and problem-solving styles. The assessments need to be non-verbal to eliminate language bias, which is another challenge in this country of 11 languages. With established employees, assessment results indicate development needs both in the areas of emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills, and also in the area of thinking skills.
Leadership development is another target in many organizations such as those in the FMCG sector, where young and talented people are selected and then given comprehensive training both in-house and through external courses. Standards meet European international standards. In addition, government funding and mentorship assistance is provided to people establishing small businesses where basic business skills training is offered. This applies to agriculture, as well as manufacturing businesses.
SETA accreditation of training to ensure quality is in progress, although the processes are not yet well aligned and have been cumbersome. A possible restructuring is likely to take place within the next two years.
Overall, the focus on training in South Africa is strong, and all nine provinces have targeted development areas in sectors such as the call center industry. The South African English pronunciation is regarded as understandable by most people and, therefore, suited to an international industry. The strong inclination toward technology supports these initiatives.
South Africa has a long way to go, but enthusiasm and funding for training, backed by government requirements and a growing economy, augurs well for development into the future.
Training In U.S. Dollar Equivalents
Funded training $270/day
Commercial training seminars $1,350/person/day
Custom and standard training $200-$2,700/day (for a class)
This article originally appeared in the March 2008 issue of Training magazine. Click here to view the article at the Training website. Catherine Mercer Bing is managing director, ITAP Americas; and Anne Newman, Nkhabele Marumo, and Lynn Hunt are partners, Siyeluleka/ITAP South Africa.
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