MINING QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY
PRESENTATION TO THE PARLIAMENTARY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
ON LABOUR
19 MARCH 2003

By: Dr Menzi Mthwecu Chief Executive Officer

Ms May Hermanus Chairperson of the MQA Board
MQA PRESENTATION TO PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE ON LABOUR
BY DR M. MTHWECU, CEO

19 MARCH 2003

INTRODUCTION

Chairperson, our Executive Committee welcomes the opportunity to present the report of the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) to the Portfolio Committee on Labour. The MQA EXCO consists of Ms May Hermanus, who is Board Chairperson and Chief Inspector of Mines in the Department of Minerals and Energy, Mr Vusi Mabena, who is the Employer Convener from the Chamber of Mines and Mr Joseph Nkosi, the Labour Convener, the Chairperson of Education at the National Union of Mineworkers and is also Deputy President of COSATU. Chairperson, I will lead the presentation of the MQA.

Since the passing of the Mine Health and Safety Act in 1996, which established the MQA, the stakeholders in the mining industry have been engaged in a tripartite process to establish a new training dispensation that will contribute to the transformation and development of an industry that is equitable, safe, healthy, productive and competitive. Our goal is to facilitate the provision of the knowledge and skills on which such a transformation depends.

The Sector as it was demarcated by the Minister of labour in 1999 include mining, jewellery manufacturing and cement manufacturing. Of the 3140 companies registered with SARS about 44% are paying the Skills Levy. Approximately 80% of these levies are accounted for by 48 large companies whilst some 794 are small companies with less than 50 employees. Many more small companies are inactive. According to the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME), there was just over 400 000 employees in this sector in 2003. The SSP that is included in your package gives some useful data on the profile of the sector particularly in terms of employment patterns (job categories, race, gender, provinces), current skills supply and skills needed in the different commodities and business processes. The data in the SSP has been largely validated by data obtained from the annual skills plans and reports of companies.

Our submission will follow the format agreed by the SETAs that will be in terms of the five targets of the National Skills Development Strategy. In the folder that was sent ahead of this meeting, you will find our Annual Report for last year, the Business Plan and Budget for next year, the Sector Skills Plan and its updated targets for next year. The green overview pamphlet of the MQA contains the figures as at January 2003. We will take questions on those documents.

NATIONAL SKILLS DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

The National Skills Development Strategy is an essential component of the MQAs Business Plan that focuses our attention on the development of the human resources of our Sector. This is agreed in a MoU between the MQA and DOL.

The strategy provides a vision for the future and sets objectives and targets so that progress can be measured regularly. The ultimate success of the strategy depends on a vibrant partnership between employers and workers, as well as the contribution of training providers and the government.

OBJECTIVE 1 - Developing a culture of high quality life-long learning

NSDS TARGET 1.1: By March 2005, a minimum of 70% of all employees will have a level one qualification.

MQA TARGET: By March 2005 50% (about 189 583) of the workforce should have the NQF level one qualification or higher.

MINING CHARTER SCORECARD: Every employee to be given an opportunity to be functionally literate and numerate by the year 2005.


MQA Progress ito Objective 1.1

In March 2002, the National Certificate: Introduction to the Mining and Minerals Sector NQF 1 was gazetted by SAQA. Up to 2002, the industry did not have an NQF 1 / ABET 4 qualification. According to the MQA-HSRC research report of 2000, about 68.5% of mineworkers may need training at the ABET levels. This qualification will be the baseline or entry qualification which will enable mineworkers to progress to higher qualifications (NQF 2 and above) and or be able to access learnerships and skills programmes.

In May 2002, the NSF awarded a R25 million grant to the MQA to incentivise employers who enroll ABET 4 learners during 2003/4/5. This was further enhanced in October 2002, when the MQA, from its unclaimed grants, approved an additional R25 million to incentivise employers who enroll ABET 1-3 learners during 2003/4/5. These grants have been communicated to employers, employee organizations and ABET providers through workshops, multilingual pamphlets and during our recent road shows held at all major mining centres in South Africa.

In March 2003, the MQA commissioned the writing of learning materials for the NQF 1 / ABET 4. A further R2 million, from the unclaimed grants, has been allocated for this purpose. The learning materials will be freely available to all accredited ABET providers in the sector.

The MQA has made a grant of R4 million available to providers in this sector to obtain their ISO 9001:2000 accreditation. This has contributed to 15 training providers being accredited with the MQA and other applicants are being visited. To lead by example, the Office of the MQA was accredited in terms of ISO 9001:2000 in February 2003.

NSDS TARGET 1.2: By March 2005, a minimum of 15% of workers to have embarked on a structured learning programme, of which 50% have completed their programmes satisfactorily.

MQA TARGET: By March 2005, 15% (56 875) of workers should have embarked on a structured programme of which 50% (28 437) should have completed their programmes satisfactorily.

MQA Progress ito Objective 1.2

35 Learnerships should be in place by March 2003 and about 2 000 learners should be registered by April 2003.

With the introduction of the new Falls of Ground regulations, the MQA responded by introducing ten Skills Programmes for "Competent persons A and B". It is estimated that over the next 3 years about 100 000 learners will be registered on the MQA database and would have completed these programmes successfully.

A major milestone was achieved in March 2003 when the MQA Standards Generating Body finalized its Qualifications Framework for the Sector. The Qualifications Framework spells out all the qualifications required in the various fields and NQF levels in the sector. The Qualifications Framework was developed with extensive stakeholder involvement and will enable the MQA to direct its resources to the design of priority qualifications, unit standards, learnerships and skills programmes for the sector. At the same time it enables provider institutions to align their programmes with the needs of industry.

MQA Challenges ito Objective 1.1 and 1.2

A major constraint to the successful delivery of learning in the Sector has been the inability of employers to release learners from their full time jobs to attend training. This continues to be a matter for collective bargaining at mines.

It should also be noted that the average age profile of learners in the Sector is fairly high which may be the reason for a reluctance to return to the formal learning system. However, the system of Recognition of Prior Learning should assist with the assessment of workers who have been in the Sector for a long time.

OBJECTIVE 2 Fostering skills development in the formal economy for productivity and employment growth

NSDS TARGET 2.1: By March 2005, at least 75% of enterprises with more than 150 workers are receiving skills development grants and the contribution towards productivity and employer and employee benefits are measured.

MQA TARGET: By March 2005, 75% or 57 of 77 enterprises with more than 150 workers participate in the Levy Grant Scheme (achieved early).

NSDS TARGET 2.2: By March 2005, at least 40% of enterprises employing between 50 and 150 workers are receiving skills development grants and the contribution towards productivity and employer and employee benefits are measured.

MQA TARGET: By March 2005, 40% or 17 of 43 enterprises employing between 50 and 150 workers participate in the Levy Grant Scheme. And the contribution towards productivity and employer and employee benefits is measured.
MQA Progress ito Objective 2.1 and 2.2

77 Companies with more than 150 workers are already receiving skills grants.

8 Companies employing between 50 and 150 workers are already receiving grants.

MQA Challenges ito Objective 2.1 and 2.2

A major challenge is to measure to what extent the National Skills Development Strategy contributes towards employee benefits and productivity. Measuring instruments still have to be developed. It should also be noted that the current reporting by companies through their annual training reports represents voluntary participation since companies are not legally required to do so.

OBJECTIVE 3 Stimulating and supporting skills development in small businesses

NSDS TARGET 3.1: By March 2005, at least 20% of new and existing registered small businesses to be supported in skills development initiatives and the impact of such support to be measured.

MQA TARGET: By March 2005, it is estimated that 40% of 794 enterprises with between 1 and 49 workers receive skills grants.

MQA Progress ito Objective 3.1

In our Sector many small businesses with less than fifty employees are into Jewellery Manufacturing, Diamond and gemstone processing, Cement, Lime, Aggregates, Sand and Quarries. To ensure that SMMEs benefit from the skills strategy and levy-grant system the MQA has contracted independent SDFs to assist SMMEs to complete the claims for skills planning and reporting. It is a free service to our SMMEs.

Chairperson, some small companies have participated in the skills strategy and levy system from the moment it started in April 2000. In December 2000, the MQA gave out the first skills grants to companies who qualified for the first four months period. At that glittering occasion, the Deputy Minister of Minerals and Energy handed out the biggest cheque of R1. 3 million and the smallest cheque of R17,50. For SMMEs the return is not that great.

In May 2002, the MQA received funds from the NSF to provide training to Small-Scale Miners and to employees in Jewellery Making. The relevant training standards, qualifications, learnerships and skills programmes are being registered on the NQF and with DOL so that companies who offer training can receive support grants as from 2003. The writing of relevant training materials and accreditation of related providers are other support mechanisms being provided by the MQA.

In January 2002, the MQA secured funds from the German Technical Co-operation (GTZ) to commission research by Human Sciences Research Council for baseline studies among SMMEs in the sub-sectors of Small-Scale Mining and the Jewellery Manufacturing and Gemstone Processing. The Jwellery report, which has just been completed, will guide further MQA initiatives to support SMMEs.

MQA Challenges ito Objective 3.1

Too few SMMEs are participating in the Skills Strategy and this trend will have to be reversed if we wish to bring about grass-roots empowerment. Unfortunately, it has become evident that it is extremely difficult to obtain information for planning such as company contact details and employment details in the SMME world.

OBJECTIVE 4 Promoting skills development for employability and sustainable livelihoods through social development initiatives

NSDS TARGET 4.1: By March 2003, 100% of the National Skills Fund apportionment is spent on viable development projects.

MQA TARGET: By March 2005, the MQA will facilitate the apportionment of grants from the National Skills Fund to viable development projects in this sector, and the impact should be measured inter alia in project type and duration.

MQA Progress ito Objective 4.1

In May 2002, the MQA received a grant of R75 million from the National Skills Fund to support the following five priority interventions during 2002-2005:

To increase the provision of ABET (report given in objective one above).
Training of Small Scale Miners (report given in objective three above).
Training in Jewellery Manufacture (report given in objective three above).

To offer a Bursaries and practical experience to Technikon and university students who study in the following industry scarce skills: mining engineering, metallurgical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, analytical chemistry and Jewellery Design and Manufacture. (In the first year, 2002, 135 registered students received the NSF-MQA bursary. Chairperson, this is probably the most shining example of how the NSF is benefiting the youth and is fostering entry into the mining industry at higher occupational levels).

Training of ex-mineworkers. (Following a tender process, an agency has been contracted to manage the first project in the O.R. Tambo District Municipality in the Eastern Cape with accredited training providers giving recognized programmes in ABET, Agriculture, Vocational skills, entrepreneurial skills and others that may be identified in collaboration with the municipalities, other donors and SETAs. The German Technical Corporation (GTZ) paid for the research report that evaluated the viability of projects and training needs).

MQA Challenges ito Objective 4.1

The HSRC research into Small-Scale Mining plus the development of training standards and skills programmes for Small-Scale Miners have taken us a bit of time. Although it has taken a long time to prepare contracts with service providers in Small-Scale Mining, all the principle issues have now been resolved.

OBJECTIVE 5 Assisting new entrants into employment

NSDS TARGET 5.1: By March 2005, a minimum of 80 000 people under the age of 30 have entered learnerships.

MQA TARGET: By March 2005, systems and mechanisms will have been developed and implemented to enable 50 000 entrants into learnerships.

MQA Progress ito Objective 5.1

The following developments place the MQA in a position to deliver learnerships and skills programmes from April 2003 on:

In March 2002, 12 new qualifications were designed by Mining SGB and gazetted by SAQA. By January 2003, the MQA developed 35 Learnerships with another 7 submitted to DOL.

In March 2003, the MQA finalized a Qualifications Framework for this sector. A Guideline for Learnerships and Skills Programmes was adopted in 2002.

MQA Challenges ito Objective 5.1

The Mining Industry is currently undergoing a consolidation phase and not many new entrants are being employed except in the area of Platinum mining.

Furthermore, the MQA will have to formulate incentive schemes which will enable employers to take on unemployed learners with a view to future employment.

NSDS TARGET 5.2: By March 2005, a minimum of 50% of those learners who have completed learnerships are, within six months of completion, (self) employed or are; in full-time study or further training or are in social development programme

MQA TARGET: By March 2005, 50% of those learners who qualified should be employed (has a job or self employed) or are in full- time study or in further training in social development programmes.

MQA Progress ito Objective 5.2

Current Learnerships in mining are directed at workers in employment, provision still has to be made to take on unemployed people as well.

MQA Challenges ito Objective 5.2

The MQA has not yet gathered data and adopted a strategy with regard to learnerships for unemployed, self employed and the youth (section 18 (2) learners).

CONCLUSION

With the targets of the NSDS, SSP and the Mining Charter guiding the sector, and given the fact that most of the MQA systems, capacity and grants are in place, the coming years should see an increase in the numbers of learners and companies benefiting from the skills strategy. As explained, this will be achieved through a concerted effort to:
Register on the NQF the needed industry standards and qualifications;
Accredit all training providers, assessors and moderators in the sector;
Approve skills plans and reports and disburse grants to companies;
Design, register and promote identified learnerships and skills programmes.
Maintain a quality assurance system in line with SAQA criteria.

Chairperson, the employers and unions together with the DME and DOL have put in place systems of corporate governance in the MQA that they are monitoring on an ongoing basis. On their behalf and on behalf of the MQA staff members I thank you all.