CHIETA honours excellence in skills development though inaugural Recognitions Awards ceremony
The Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA) held its inaugural Recognition Awards Ceremony on 26 October 2016, to acknowledge excellence in the areas of skills development partnerships, innovation in training, work integrated learning, support for people living with disabilities as well as extraordinary work by new member companies.
33 Companies walked away with awards that were given across 6 categories namely; Best Skills Development Partner, Recognition for Support of People with Disabilities, Best Partner for WIL, Best Innovation in Skills Development, CHIETA 2015/2016 Achiever Award and Special Award to new member companies from CHIETA ACEO.
The companies received a trophy, a certificate of acknowledgment as well as a cheque for R 150 000.00 towards skills development in the 2017(terms and conditions apply).
Member companies such as SASOL, CHEVRON South Africa and Unilever were amongst the veteran industry companies to snatch up awards during this prestigious event. The focus however was not on the age or history of organisations but rather the merits of each project.
Rural based companies such as Elinem Construction CC were recognized for their unique offering to the unemployed youth of rural Kwa-Zulu-Natal. “As a SETA accredited training provider and employer, we target unemployed youth from the rural community of KZN and take them through the institutional training and then into Elinem Construction for in-service training,” shared Warren Birchall, Training Manager of Elinem Construction CC. He added that the Elinem learners therefore leave the program trained for industry and not for the minimum outcome as is specified by many training program.
Mr Birchall reiterated that this program is largely made possible by CHIETA funding as 99% of their learners hail from impoverished backgrounds. This program was visited by the Auditor General of South Africa during the 2016 Audit period, and was found to be fully compliant, with a low dropout rate of 2%. South Africa’s unemployment rate has gone up since 2013 where it peaked at 24.5%, 2016 shows a 2 % increase to 26.6%. It is crucial that employers and the unemployed find each other. Often the problem comes in the from of young people not accessing training due to financial constraints or receiving training that is not necessarily suited for the employers’ needs.
Ayesha Itzkin, CHIETA CEO (Acting) stated: “The focus of CHIETA has, over the past year been on strengthening South Africa’s youth skills development system and ensuring that the right skills are developed for the needs of industry, the economy and the country, specifically enhancing workplace experience – based training and contributing to building strong partnerships with important role-players for a range of training interventions. This is also done for bursary students” Henkel South Africa is one of the member companies that was recognized for their innovative approach to training and ability to deliver on CHIETA and industry focus areas. Through their Shaping Futures project, Henkel South Africa offers training and placement to young aspirant hairdressers. Mr Bongani Mabunda, Head of Education for Africa, Henkel South Africa celebrated the fact that of the 300 students trained though this program, 270 enjoy fulltime employment. “We normally used to do this program once a year but due to demand and funding from CHIETA we are now able to do it twice a year. We are also expanding and were now taking the program to Cape Town for the first time,” said Mr Mabunda.
Amidst the uncertainty of the future of our tertiary education system in the face of the fees issues, it is heartening to see parties collaborating to address the skills, funding and education challenges. Partnerships between TVET colleges such as Umfolozi, Gert Sibande and Falvius Mareka TVET Colleges, as well as universities such as Wits and Western Cape University, industry and SETA’s are essential in ensuring that learners are financially supported and trained for industry needs. Michelle Rock from Unilever observed; “We have worked on a strategic project with CHIETA, Wits University and our Khanyisa manufacturing plant on a unique skills program to take engineering students out of formal study for a year to come and do a full year of work integrated learning and then, fund the remainder of their studies at university again”. It is award ceremonies such as these that bring stakeholders together in order to collectively celebrate the dedication and hard work of all parties and serve as encouragement to stay the course. The CHIETA Board Chairman, Ms Nolitha Fakude’s message focused on the importance of the event and said: “We are gathered here this evening to celebrate and honour the achievement and commitment of 33 CHIETA companies in skills development. We recognise your efforts and to all other stakeholders, not being recognised today, we also thank you for your participation and commitment, and in the same breath encourage you to do even more going forward. “