Building a competent workforce

The chemical industry Seta is creating a Job ready workforce through digital platforms and partnerships

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The Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA) has declared its commitment to bringing students, graduates and employers together to strengthen the South African chemical industry.

“Industry made it clear that it was important to meet high training standards to promote employment of trainees on learnerships or apprenticeships. Industry informed us that they would rather not do the training of the knowledge component of occupationally directed courses themselves, but have public institutions do this for them,” stated Ayesha Itzkin, CHIETA CEO (acting).

Heeding this request, the CHIETA has launched key initiatives to serve both industry and learners by creating programs and platforms that bring industry, pupils and graduates together.

The Supply Side Database

One such platform is the Supply Side Database. In an effort to ensure that it is at the forefront of training innovation and execution, the CHIETA has launched an online platform, Supply Side Database. According to Kedibone Moroane, the executive manager for research and skills planning, this online platform is aimed at streamlining learners’ access to work-integrated learning opportunities.  

Graduates and learners are invited to register and submit their qualifications and information to the database for placement with companies in the chemical industry. This database will be vetted and maintained by the CHIETA to ensure that the information is kept up to date and verified accordingly. Employers will be able to select from this pool of students and graduates to find suitable candidates to recruit. Students and graduates are encouraged to register on the CHIETA website for the great opportunity.

"The platform benefits both employers and prospective employees” says Moroane. 

Moroana explained that participation in this platform is voluntary and there is not cost attached to member companies of the Seta who participate.

New partnerships

Further in line with its commitment to creating and funding programmes that are inextricably linked with employers needs, the CHIETA, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and Unilever have formed a partnership that will establish a long-term strategic programme to develop young engineering leaders in South Africa. This programme will offer Wits engineering students hands-on experience as well as access to a highly regarded Engineering qualification.

“Through this Public-Private-Academic partnership, thirty students will be given the opportunity to work at Unilever’s Khanyisa factory, in Boksburg, gaining much needed on-the-job training and practical experience,” said Antoinette Irvine, Unilever Vice President of Human Resources. “The students will form part of the factory operations team for the duration of their year of employment, giving them practical exposure to the production process and an opportunity to develop their technical and problem solving skills,” added Irvine.

This partnership with Unilever will bridge the gaps between study and the professional space ensuring more work-ready graudates emerge from the programme.

Phumzile Lekgoathi, third year Mechanical Engineering student at Wits said,

“This programme is a mind opening opportunity that gives lessons which you don’t get in varsity. I will gain an understanding of the simple principles of the working world as well as an enhanced engineering experience. “

Raakshani Sing, Executive Manager Grants and Strategic Projetcs states that the greatest point of failure is when students move from learning to performing.

“Our programs ease this transition. We aim to get learniers more work ready with greater chance of renetion, “ she adds.

Since its inception 15 years ago, the CHIETA has contributed to the training of over 100 000 students.

During the 2014-15 financial year, the authority disbursed over R 300m to support employed and pre-employed workers, R 60m of which was dedicated to work integrated learning opportunities. A further R456 million has been budgeted for partnership programs until 2018.  These funds are raised through skills development levies obtained from the member companies and are disbursed back to the companies based on planned, approved and verified training.

Ayesha Itzkin, acting CEO of the CHIETA, said she is delighted to celebrate 14 consecutive years of unqualified audit outcomes.

“We have disbursed 99.5% of all levy grant income, and the grant funding we get is given back to companies for training. We have achieved our targets, contrary to views expressed by some, that Setas do not work,” she said.

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