As more and more training providers, SDFs and HRs return to work and start clearing their Inboxes, the full implications of the new SETA funding regulations are starting to become eye-wateringly clear. It seems also that the overwhelming reaction is worry, and fear, and panic. With good reason, of course, but still maybe not entirely productive.

I think it is time to adjust our thinking, and I believe the new regulations is just the jolt we all need to get out of some very dangerous trends that have been developing over the last 10 years. Yes, the SETA-managed SDL levy/grant system has made more funding available for skills development since its inception and it has created learning opportunities for a great many who would otherwise have had to do without, but it has come at a cost way beyond 1% of the payroll - it has cost us direction and clear thinking in skills development. Let me make the following statements, and you see what you think:

  • The SETA is not your customer - employers are
  • SETAs and the QCTO do not need 25 million skilled workers - employers do
  • SETAs, SGBs and the QCTO do not know what makes a worker skilled - employers do
  • DHET might determine funding priorities, but they do not determine learning priorities - employers do

So how about we start listening and responding to our customers again.

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I agree Mlamuli!


We should be finding ways to meet our client's needs (as Jacomien pointed out) and THEN look at how many of the SETA and QCTO's requirements are met by our solutions.


It is scary how "ticking the boxes" blinds us!

I agree SETA and QCTO's do have there own advantage but with the change in phase there is a NEED 
to Change Your Mind as rightly quoted by Jacomien De Klerk to deliver solutions based on CLIENT CENTRIC. If not then T&D professional will hamper organizational business directing to faster, efficient and innovative delivery.

After all by the end of business we need Return on investment (ROI).

Thans for the article Jacomien. It is a reality that so many training providers find themselves in, and one which has created a huge number of insolvencies within the industry in the past year. The points that you raise are completely valid and true, yet in my experience there is one overwhelming issue that is hard to overcome and to which I would welcome suggestions and collaborations - the employers, our clients, seem to only want to fund training from the SETA grants.

I have been working on a way to make this more attractive to employers and have tried selling this to them, but in all honesty it has been incredibly challenging even entertaining a discussion that does not include the provision of grant funding from the relevant SETA.

The companies I have spoken with do conduct training, but due to the tightening of financial belts many of the ones I have approached run training internally and require funding to conduct any additional training they do. In some cases this means that smaller providers are competing with far larger ones who have been around for in the region of 15 to 20 years and who have established contracts with employers, which places an additional challenge for many smaller providers.

A case in point was when I went to visit a potential client with a warm lead into that client. The client currently runs large scale learnerships and this was literally a no-go area as they have a contracted provider who they prefer to work with. The purpose of the meeting was, therefore, to implement short courses and programmes that could make a real different to the client. This was discussed and understood. The client was excited by the proposed solution and I was asked to provide a quotation. When I provided this to the client, which is a large multinational, they came back saying that it was too expensive and they were willing to pay a far lower rate for a one-day pilot. I always look for an opportunity to create a relationship with a client and so agreed with the proviso that I could get ongoing work from that client. The client immediately asked what my BBBEE rating is and when I mentioned that I am a white-owned Exempt Micro Enterprise (NQF 4) I was told that they required a minimum of Level 3 so no ongoing work could be expected. This effectively killed the possibility of doing work with the company, which had been so excited by the learning and development solutions that I had proposed.

It is this ongoing challenge that has me gravely concerned about the state of learning and development within South Africa in general. Companies are training for the wrong reasons and despite the fact that they are the client, it is expected that external training will be bankrolled by the SETAs, with whom I have experienced incredibly slow payments  and other challenges.

Where does this leave us as training and development providers? Is there a future for this within the current South African context? How have you and other providers you know overcome these challenges? Please let me know as this has left me jaded and highly concerned.


Thanks for your postive post - sometimes we get so focused on a problem we don't see the other options.  but I do have questions if anyone can answer.

The Setas dont seem to know about the changes or how to implement them so when do we change the submission of WSP date - is it still June 2013 (according to the SETA it is?)

When do the clients start getting back their 20% madatory from 2014 or after June 2013?

How will the pivitol grant work - can the company claim this to do training in their industry and use the grant for training at any training provider or only at a FET college?

Sorry this may be clear in the regulations, but can someone clarify it to me.

Hi Tracey - the one thing that is very clear in the Regulations is the submission dates, as follows:

  • Mandatory grants must be submitted by 30 June 2013, (a Seta may grant an extension for a maximum of a month subject to a written request of a levy paying employer)
  • from 1 April 2014, the mandatory grant documents must be submitted by 30 April each year.

As the regulations are effective from 1 April 2013, the 20%  should commence from this 2013 year and must be paid quarterly.

Less clear are the answers to your other questions - but here goes as best I understand:

Before responding to queries on PIVOTAL grants the regulations require the Setas to prepare their SSP and an APP (Annual Performance Plan) with the DHET.  They must have a Discretionary Grants Policy specific to their sector, they must include how PIVOTAL programmes "can" be delivered through public institutions. 

They must prepare and distribute grant application and project proposal forms and ensure national access by: legal persons or enterprises of different sizes (including small and micro enterprises, NGOs and cooperatives. They must be able to participate in any type of skills development programme that falls within the Seta Discretionary Grants Policy.  80% of the discretionary funds must go to PIVOTAL and 20% may go to non-PIVOTAL. 

There will be lesser requirements on completion of PIVOTAL training plans for those employing less than 50.

So once each SETA has their Discretionary Grant Policy for their sector, we will be clearer.  

Sylvia thank you so much for this information, would I be correct in assuming that the pivotal grant policy would been to be in place before May so that we can take that into account when doing the WSP?

Tracey - from what I can understand, where a Seta already has a good implementation history with discretionary grants - like the Foodbev Seta for example - not that much will change.  In fact it seems to me that the companies who are implementing will most likely see a greater benefit.

Let me give an some examples:

PIVOTAL grants lead to qualifications or part qualifications, therefore learnerships, apprenticeships, bursary programmes and in-service training (required to achieve a qualification) will still all count.  But because the Seta will need to make sure that they reach the 80% towards these things, you will find that they've increased the amount paid per annum.  So with Foodbev for example it will be a set Rand amount for an apprenticeship for example - a Rand amount per each of 3 years required.

Skills programmes that form part of a qualification will also count provided that they meet the registration requirements, and are formally assessed and moderated, and so on - or they could form part of the 20%.

They will also still have the 20% funding available for items not leading to a qualification - like a diversity programme or an aids awareness programme.

Of course where the Seta isn't organised and doesn't have this good history of discretionary grant implementation and funding it may be more difficult.

So if we see it simply as a move of focus towards formal qualifications and part qualifications (registered on SAQA) then we can see that it increases the formality requiring assessment and moderation and achievement of credits for employees.  The upside for employers is that there is more money available - and they can include it in their B-BBEE scorecard.

Thanks Sylvia - I understand a lot better now.

Thanks Sylvia, much appreciated!


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