Maximizing your Returns on Skills Initiatives


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The training and Development of your People. An Investment Employers need to maximise.

In South Africa, the challenge the majority of South African’s face is accessibility, one of those is education. Apart from Social Economic Development initiatives, the private sector can do very little about the grass roots level of accessibility to education, placing a higher burden on employers to ensure their workforce is properly trained and equipped to do business. With the understanding of South Africa’s current constraints to grass roots and tertiary education, employers can better not only their productivity from their employees but also the quality of their employees’ personal circumstances and further to the economy of South Africa, ultimately improving the lives of all South Africans.

There is a call to action for employers within South Africa to place a higher emphasis on employee training and development, understanding that it is an investment not only to their business but the economy in which they operate in. There are multiple benefits to training your existing workforce in which we understand such as: Increased productivity and performance; Increased employee engagement; Reduced employee turnover; and the list continues. However, this comes at a cost. This article is focused on bringing awareness to employers on the relief measures available when providing meaningful training to their employees and the simultaneous benefit to both the individual and the business in this modern world of work. Read an in-depth view in a recent article from us The Importance of Upskilling your Employees.

What training takes priority within my organization when it comes to training?

Before we dive into the relief measures, the training that takes first prize will always be compliance training based on sector/industry specific requirements. This training, although a headache keeps the doors open, however often it is the only training done due to it being legislative requirement.

1. Compliance Training:

This training is required based on industry specific criteria and needs to be prioritized at the top of the list as mentioned, it keeps the business in operation and compliant with certain acts such as Occupational health and Safety and has ties to Employment Equity, in the need for providing a safe working environment for all and where applicable the obligation to provide training to ensure a safe working environment.

2. Operational Training:

The next aspect of training requirements to be prioritized comprise of the individual organization’s need to operate effectively and efficiently in which they cannot go without. Often this takes the form of internal training on own systems and processes, ensuring all staff are proficient in operating these as it has a direct impact on the bottom line through employee productivity. However, there can be a need for external providers to provide training in certain industries where accreditation or a qualification is required.

3. Technological Training:

The third category of training to be prioritized is training required for technological advancements and systems such as excel and the rest of the Microsoft Suite as an example in which we saw a huge uptake since the start of COVID – 19 pandemic and the ever-evolving technology in which many operations take place. This enables an employee to work remotely and flexibly which is hugely desired and sought after in the new world of work.

4. Further Human Resource Development.

Without taking away from the importance of developing our employees on a personal level, equipping them with leadership and business skills, which enables them with the opportunity to progress within the workplace. This unfortunately is prioritized last due to the limited available budget which is utilized to cover compliance required training.

Understanding the way in which training is prioritized helps guide us on where we spend our limited available budget, let alone trying to achieve your B-BBEE skills target spend and provide a better quality of life for our employees and their families.

In addition to accurately prioritizing the type of training your workforce requires, employers in South Africa are faced with the challenge of prioritizing who recieves training within the workforce and where the bulk of their budget is applied. Legislation like B-BBEE and Employment Equity (especially the amendments to the act) reaffirm the need to train black people and those from designated groups, this strategy will help employers achieve their sectoral targets from the limited available talent pools of suitably qualified people. Read more on the importance of training in our recent article The-Future-of-Employment-Equity.

Employers have the opportunity through their training initiatives to achieve compliance across multiple acts and ensure the future of their business all in one go, through strategic training plans and ongoing learning that ready their existing employees for future success.

Relief measures in executing more than what your current budget allows:

Within South Africa, employers whose annual payroll/wage bill which is equal to or above that of         R 500,000 are imposed with a tax called the Skills Development Levy which is to a value of 1% of their annual payroll amount, this contributes to the country’s overall skills development needs within the workplace as defined in the Skills Development Act 97 of 1998 as well as the Skills Development Levies Act 9 of 1999.

Yes, employers who are contributing to this National Fund for skills development in South Africa can claim a percentage back in which they paid over to SARS through their relevant Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA’s) If employers don’t claim back this percentage, the business is essentially bleeding money while still paying for training. Employers can benefit from other tax incentives through their participation in Learnerships for both employed and unemployed people within the Republic. These tax incentives are lucrative and make larger amounts of funds available for other training needs required like, Further Human Resource Development.

The available relief measures to employers in contributing to their skills development initiatives through the SETA Grants and Tax Incentives are designed to increase and encourage employers in the private sector to participate in further developing their workforce as well as the large number of unemployed people in South Africa who are of age to work but lack the relevant skills to enter the job market. Tapping into this pool of funding is vital in reducing the physical spend from the employer’s pocket. To view the detail in each of these relief measures refer to our recent articles B-BBEE and Skills Development Compliance article for an in depth understanding of the requirements to obtaining these relief measures.

With the latest improvements in technology, training has become incredibly accessible through       e-learning and virtual training and becomes a sure way to reduce the overall cost of training through bundled subscriptions for qualifications and online course modules for the entire workforce. Through initiatives like these employers can measure who makes use of these courses and prioritises their own learning and development, employers need just provide the opportunity and encourage participation.

In today’s modern world of work training is available at the click of a button and on your own time. Employers need to ensure they are benefiting from such initiatives with the associated relief measures so that they may retain and attract top talent, slash the cost of training in half and can train even more people on high quality qualifications than ever before.

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