Discretionary Grants – How to secure funding for training from your SETA

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Submitting a discretionary grant funding application through the SETA is not a process all companies pursue after submitting the Workplace Skills Plan (WSP), a lot of companies are content by just submitting the Workplace Skills Plan and receiving the mandatory 20% of the Skills Development Levi (SDL) contribution. However, companies that contribute towards the skills development levy should realise the value in submitting the discretionary grant applications through the allocated SETA and access additional funding. The discretionary grant application is key to unlocking the additional potential 49.50% of the skills development levy available to the employer.

These grants are allocated at the sole discretion of each SETA depending on the availability of funds, adherence to specific criteria as per each of the SETA discretionary grants policies, guidelines, and scarce and critical skills.

These discretionary grants are applicable when an employer addresses the sectors scarce and critical skills through the following PIVOTAL programmes (Professional, Vocational, Technical and Academic learning programmes) that result in occupational qualifications or part qualifications on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). The bulk of discretionary funding is directed at the provision of PIVOTAL or learning programmes, which comprise the following: Learnerships, Work Integrated Learning, Internships, Bursaries and Skills programmes. These learning programs can be both for employed as well as unemployed people.

If the discretionary grant is based on the industry scarce and critical skills of that sector it is highly likely that the SETA will award funding for those specific learning programs. It is the mandate of the SETA to close the scarce and critical skills gaps of each industry and this is why the Seta will award additional funds to close these skills gaps. The Skills Development Facilitator (SDF) should consult with the employer on the current scarce and critical skills identified by the SETA and see if those training needs are applicable to the company. Discretionary grants are aimed at encouraging companies to contribute towards skills development by giving people accredited training, full qualifications or workplace experience through internships and occupationally directed programs.

Learnerships for employed and unemployed people are a great way to increase your training spend as you can count the salary of the learner as a training expenditure in BEE. Through the learnership process, the employer is able to increase the level of skills of his/her employees and reclaim the cost of the learnership fees from their SETA. The current tax incentives also make it attractive for companies to pursue the learnership programs and utilise that value of the tax deduction.

The ideal way in which a company could acquire its full training spend is through unlocking the discretionary grants and accessing funds to address their training needs. When companies cut cost and stop spending the training budget is normally the first thing that disappears, however, this does not have to be the case when the SDF unlocks the potential of the discretionary grant and access the funding that the company should be rightfully claiming.

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