Kudos, Minister Gordhan!

competence

The announcement by Minister Gordhan on 6 December 2018 that all leave for senior Eskom managers are cancelled[1], is a fresh breeze.  Growth Institute cannot recall when last did a Minister step in to hold officials to account not because they do not tow the party line but because they did not do their job.

In addition, the fact that the Minister went as far as to speak about the incompetence of Eskom officials[2], sent positive signals such as which South Africa has not seen in many years.  If Eskom is repositioning itself as a business[3], then the question is what has been Eskom’s operational premise in the past.

In 2005, Henry Mintzberg argued that states cannot develop unless its leaders also develop to become competent managers[4].  Mintzberg’s views was based on what he found in Ghana.  Clearly, African leaders – including the long-forgotten Rainbow Nation – are blissfully unaware of the link between competent leadership and a competitive economy.  The exception seems to be Mr. Gordhan.  His insight that economies thrive under competent leadership and whither when political rhetoric is stronger than leadership, is encouraging for all except for the Eskom management team.

For the first time in many years, Eskom senior management will be forced to come out of their ivory towers and practice the old craft (not graft!) of “Managing by Walking Around”.  Corporate Stupidity, said the famous Ed Yourdon, happens when managers are fed half-truths, non-facts and bold-faced lies and when managers accept such defective reasoning to make important decisions, causing the managers to look stupid.  Being forced by the Minister to go see for themselves, will hopefully compel Eskom’s vast cadre of management to discover ugly truths that they cannot blame on wet coal, coal that is too dry, Apartheid, English Colonialism, Dutch Colonisation or whatever other excuse was offered in the past to shy away from managerial incompetence.

The Minister threw down a gauntlet that his predecessors did not have the courage to dare because they were held hostage by a system of incompetence in exchange for patronage.  It will be interesting to see what would happen to the heaps of dead wood that the Minister is about the discover in the next few weeks.  Now is the time to perform painful but necessary surgery not only to pull Eskom from near death but to take actions that will convince investors that managers in public enterprises (Eskom, PIC, Post Office, SAA and many others) will be shipped out if they do not shape up. Hiding behind labour unions and running to courts to hold on to the self-imposed right to stand at a feeding trough where no one controls your fiscal gluttony, must be called out.

Since 2008, South Africa moved from the overall 45th place on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index to the 61st place in the 2017/2018 report.  Dropping 16 places in ten years should be a matter of national disgrace.  South Africa can no longer inculcate a mantra of mediocrity.  It may win votes at the polls but it costs the economy and the country’s standing on the stage of nations.

Instead of “Aloota Continua”, let the surgery begin to heal the economy.

[1] https://ewn.co.za/2018/12/06/eskom-needs-to-get-the-basics-right-gordhan

[2] https://www.fin24.com/Economy/Eskom/gordhan-there-will-be-no-dark-christmas-20181206

[3] https://www.fin24.com/Economy/Eskom/gordhan-eskom-should-be-allowed-to-compete-in-the-renewable-space-20180829-2

[4] http://www.hobest.es/files/articulos-blog/h.-mintzberg-developing-leaders-developing-countries

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Youth Unemployment: Wake up, SETA!

youth unemployment

South Africa is in a conundrum regarding our scarce skills shortages.  The Skills Development Act expects industry to train as many people as possible through learnerships.  Industry is willing to engage in learnership programs but there is a growing dissatisfaction in how SETA handles the qualifications that must be issued at the end of each learnership.

Industry is dissatisfied with the fact that SETA can take as long as three years to issue a qualification associated with a learnership.  Delays at SETA to issue qualifications make it impossible for industry to claim part of the tax rebates that they are entitled to.  At present, industry can claim a learnership entry tax rebate of R 40 000 for every person that was placed on a learnership.  For every person with a disability, the learnership entry tax rebate is R 60 000.  For every person that completes a learnership, industry is entitled to a exit tax rebate of at least R 40 000 (or R 60 000 in case of persons with disabilities).

Claiming the learnership entry tax rebate is relatively easy to accomplish.   On the other hand, claiming a learnership exit tax depends on when SETA issues the national qualification that is associated with the learnership.

It can take as long as three years for SETA to issue a qualification and this has a significant knock-on effect on industry’s capability to claim tax rebates after a person completed a learnership.

Incapabilities at SETA to issue qualifications sooner, also means that there are many young people who have studied through a learnership and who cannot get a job until such time that SETA issues their qualifications to them.

SETA’s incapability to issue qualifications in a shorter timeframe scuppers the intentions of the Skills Development Act and it creates an unwillingness in industry to place persons on a learnership.

It is time for the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Education and the Minister of Finance to hold SETA accountable for their inability to issue qualifications on time.  The departments represented by these Minsters are important components in the success or failure of the Skills Development Act.  If anyone of these three Ministries fail to do its part, the entire learnership system is under threat.  Since all three State departments play a pivotal part, levels of cooperation between these departments to issue qualifications on time, is not negotiable.  It must happen and there can no longer be room for a siloed approach to South Africa’s skills crisis.

President Ramaphosa initiated an investor conference that started on 26 October 2018.  One of the expected outcomes of the investor conference is to attract more investments so that more jobs can be created.  Job creation depends on presenting as many qualified people as possible to the job market.

But, if SETA takes up to three years before a qualification is issued, how can jobs be created if industry wants to see that a person is qualified for a specific role?

Until SETA expedites the issue of qualifications, it is not possible to solve one of many complexities associated with South Africa’s unemployment statistics.

Mahala for Billions

Mahala for Billions.jpg

The Mid-Term budget was mute on some of the biggest elephants in the room.

In view of the dirty washing coming out in the State Capture Hearings, the SARS pickle and the VBS Mutual Bank mutually assured destruction, how would the State be able to make good on it promises on free education?

The Minister said there is “nothing for mahala”.  But the State must admit they have in hand mahala for billions.  This makes the doctrine of free education unsustainable.  The Minister has stated that the State’s wage bill needs an intervention.  From an education viewpoint, the one big elephant to cull is the inefficiencies associated with TVET colleges.

Can the nation afford an education system where less than 10% of first years eventually complete a level 4 qualification[1]?  Funding for TVET colleges is based on head count and not on throughput.  In addition, the State pays all salaries for staff at TVET colleges.  The State also foots the bill for the upkeep of all facilities at the TVET colleges.

The Minister should consider a TVET funding model where throughput and not headcount is the norm.  State funding for other public universities and colleges is based on throughput and not on headcount.  There can no longer be a justification to treat TVET colleges different from the rest of the public education spectrum.

For years, the State has spoken about bloated wage bills in the public sector.  To demand that the Minister explains why previous plans to curb the State’s expense have failed, is not appropriate because the Minister inherited a Treasury where word and deed is sorely mismatched.  The real challenge to the Minister will be to act and to make sure that there are effective measures to prevent more leaks in the fiscus.

Now is the time to hold all recipients of State funding to account and to demand that the phenomenon of “billions for mahala” stops.  A State that does not demand counter performance because it wants to safeguard votes at the ballot has only itself to blame.  History is not the reason for the current wasteful expenditures that the State experiences.  Greed and the urge to get rich quick is the other big elephant in a room.  A tender that charges R 40 for 500 millilitres of bottled water Is not in the best interest of the State.  Instead it is one of the many small rodents that decays the State’s primary responsibility of delivering services to the people.

The TVET education system must explain why less than 10% of students who started an NC(V) 2 program eventually finishes with an NC(V) 4 qualification three years later.  The low real throughput rates at TVET colleges is a big concern to an economy that has an ever-growing skills crisis.  The NC(V) 4 qualification is equivalent to a Grade 12.  In order to stand out and to contribute to the workeracy movement, there is a demand for more persons that have diplomas at Level 5 and Level 6.  In addition, the State must insist that students meet all course requirements (including practical work components) before TVET colleges award a qualification.  The current practice to ignore the practical work components, leaving students with incomplete qualifications, must stop.

The Global Competitive Index shows a strong correlation between the quality of education and the overall competitiveness of an economy.  That is a fact that the Minister cannot ignore.  If South Africa is honest with itself, must acknowledge how more than ten years of populism and fiscal leakages have been detrimental to the country’s competitive stature.

Strong leadership, discipline, holding wasters to account must be the focus areas going forward.  In the end, the strength of a nation is measured by the strength of the economy and not by the numbers at the ballot.

[1] https://city-press.news24.com/Voices/is-it-time-to-ditch-the-national-certificate-vocational-20181002

Announcing our Commercial Matric Program

we can help

The problem

South Africa does not have enough Certified Bookkeepers and Accountants to meet the demand from industry.  The fact is that the majority of Grade 12 learners do not have the correct subjects to start tertiary studies in Bookkeeping or Accounting.  Also, there are many Grade 12’s who failed the Grade 12 exams and who cannot start any tertiary studies unless they have a Grade 12 or a Grade 12 Equivalent.

The current solution

At present, learners who failed their Grade 12 exams and who could not pass the supplementary exams have an option to go to a TVET college in an attempt to get a tertiary education.

The bad news is that those students are placed in a program where they actually have to repeat Grade 10, 11 and 12 before they could start a tertiary study program.

There is no sense in repeating three years of high school at a TVET college before starting a first-year tertiary program.

What if a learner could complete a Matric Equivalence program in less than six months and then start a program leading to a qualification in:

  1. Financial Accounting, or
  2. Business Management, or
  3. Entrepreneurship, or
  4. Office Administration, or
  5. Hotel Management, or
  6. Tourism Management

Our Program Details

Our Commercial Matric Equivalence Program leads to a National Certificate in Small Business Financial Management (the same level as the Grade 12 National Certificate).  This program has three professional exams, and after successful completion, students can start further studies in any of the programs offered by Growth Institute.

The three exams that students will write are:

  • Business Management I
  • Business Literacy
  • Bookkeeping to Trial Balance (no prior Bookkeeping knowledge required)

Because students write professional exams, the qualification that they receive will be recognised by a professional body.  This means that students can start the own small practice as soon as the meet the minimum requirements of the professional body.

Program Cost

The Commercial Matric Equivalence Program is priced at R 15 000 per person and the price includes:

  • Books
  • Exams fees
  • Class fees
  • VAT

Enrollment Dates

Class Start Date Final Registration Date Registration Fees Number of Places Available
14 January 2019 15 December 2018 50% of fees payable no later than 15 December 2018 100
21 February 2019 15 December 2018 50% of fees payable no later than 15 December 2018 100

LEARNERS MUST HAVE AT LEAST A VALID GRADE 11 SCHOOL REPORT TO QUALIFY

THIS IS A FULL TIME PROGRAM AND STUDENTS MUST ATTEND CLASSES AT OUR NORTHCLIFF CAMPUS.

ALL OUR STANDARD TERMS AND CONDITIONS APPLY

Making the right choices

chioices

Grade 12’s started to write their final exams and there is one question that is uppermost in their minds: “To which college or university must I go next year?”

Many have already been accepted at a college or at a university but for those who have not yet made up their mind, here are a few things to consider:

1      Professional recognition

Growth Institute’s programs are recognised by a number of professional bodies.  After your first’ year’s studies, you have the option to join a professional body and to start working as a professional on a part time basis while you study.

(Terms and conditions apply)

2      Standards

Growth Institute is a private college and all your exams are external professional exams.  You need to get a minimum of 60% in a subject to pass.  This high standard means that your qualification in worth more than that of someone who scraped through with a 50% pass mark.

3      Multiple exists

This means that you get a qualification after the successful completion of each study year.  If, for any reason, you are not able to go on to the second year but you passed all you subjects in the first year, you still get a qualification.  You do not walk away with nothing.

4      Best cost provider

Growth institute pays for all your books and exam fees.  The only cost you are responsible for is a once-off registration fee and your class fees. Until 31 December 2018, our prices are set as:

  • R 3 276 registration fee (incl. VAT)
  • R 3 276 per subject (incl. VAT)

As from 1 January 2019, the prices will be:

  • R 3 770 registration fee (incl. VAT)
  • R 3 770 per subject (incl. VAT)

Register before 31 December 2018 to benefit from the old prices.

5      Uninterrupted studies

Growth Institute has a strict zero tolerance policy when it comes to protests, etc. that disrupt classes somewhere else.  As a private college we reserve the right to suspend anyone that threatens the safety of any of our students or staff.

Issued by Growth Institute on 16 October 2018

Version 2018/01

www.growthinstitute.co.za

 

Tax Benefits for Parents

Students4

In tough economic times there are many parents who cannot afford the high cost associated with tertiary education.  Class fees are not the only thing to consider.  The cost of books and accommodation could outstrip the cost of class fees in some cases.  In addition, should a student quit his/her studies before completion, parents have lost a significant amount of investment into that student’s future.

What if there was a way that parents could get significant tax breaks for the years that their child studies towards a national qualification?  Would any parent refuse a minimum tax break of R 80 000 per year if the parent could qualify for such a tax break?

Learnerships are the key to affordable tertiary education in which many people could benefit regardless of race, creed or gender.

Understanding Learnerships

There is a general misconception that learnerships and tax rebates associated with learnerships are the exclusive domain of B-BBEE regulations.  The fact is that the National Skills Development Act provides all South Africans between the age of 18 and 35 the opportunity to obtain a first qualification through a learnership.  In addition, SARS allows tax rebates on all valid learnership regardless the race or gender of the learnership beneficiary.

Business owners who pay Skills Development Levies and who can show that their company is tax compliant can claim two learnership rebates from SARS:

  • A minimum of R 40 000 for every person (including the business owners’ child) when the learnership starts (as entry rebate)
  • A minimum of R 40 000 for every person who completes a learnership and who acquired a national qualification through the learnership (as exit rebate)

Learnerships are not there simply to check a few boxes for the sake of getting a few more points on a B-BBEE scorecard.  Such a practice is simply unethical and it does not benefit anyone.

If used correctly, learnership can be very powerful to deliver skills to the workplace and to recruit the best possible persons for a vacancy that a company may have.

Quality of Learnership Programs

There is a perception that qualifications obtained through a learnership are inferior because the qualification is awarded through SETA (Sector Education and Training Authorities).  Some learnership programs are managed and assessed by external quality assurance partners who demand that students write an external professional exam.  These types of learnerships have a required pass mark of 60% in all subjects compared to a required pass mark of 50% in other learnerships and in other academic programs.

Some qualifications, obtained through a learnership, are recognised by professional bodies.  This means that the student, who obtained a qualification through such learnership, has a high competency level and that he/she could be trusted by industry.  After all, having a qualification recognised by a professional body does open many doors for the youth.

Creating Work Through Learnerships

Parents and students always ask whether a qualification could guarantee someone employment.  The fact is that no academic institution can state that their qualifications guarantee that a person will be employed after he/she qualified.  Employing someone remains the prerogative of the employer.  And, since employers do not realise that some qualifications, earned through learnerships, are recognised by professional bodies, they miss out on adding potential value to their workforce.

Learnership programs recognised by professional bodies do allow a person to start his/her own professional practice within the practice guidelines of the professional body.  Thus, nothing stands in the way of someone to offer his/her professional services to small businesses in a community.

The idea that degrees are the only key that open the door to professionalism is an outdated myth.

Who would not want to earn an income with a lower qualification, that is recognised by a professional body, instead of having a degree and still have no way of generating an income?

Levels of Professional Designations

Students who have completed a learnership program recognised by a professional body could embark on a journey of lifelong learning.  They could enroll into a program at a next level and receive a higher professional designation after they completed the higher-level program.

Being part of a professional body, a person can also earn valuable CPD (Continuous Professional Development) points.  In addition, a person could become a member of another related professional body and expand his/her practice as soon as he/she meets the other professional body’s requirements.

Membership to some professional bodies also provide access to advanced degree programs for those who wish to eventually have a degree.  However, the greatest demand for skills in South Africa is in professions where a suitable diploma, recognised by a professional body, is in demand.  For a person who wants to have his/her own professional practice, early recognition by a professional body means early participation in economic growth.

International Recognition

The next question that parents and students ask is whether a qualification has international accreditation or recognition.

Some learnership programs are recognised by professional bodies that are represented in all of the Commonwealth countries.  This means that a person could find it easier than someone else to have their qualification accepted by a chapter of the same professional body in another country.

Looking Towards the Future

Anyone who can join a professional body soon after he/she has completed a learnership program has a greater chance to economic independence than those who have a degree not recognised by a professional body.

Dress Code versus School Violence

Jeppe Girls High School is in the news because certain dress code policies are deemed discriminatory[1].  In the past, other schools were in the news because of hairstyles, stovepipe trousers and a plethora of other dress code issues that seem to go contra schools’ disciplinary codes.

Arguments that dress codes contravene a school’s disciplinary codes, constitution or code of conduct must be re-examined.  Can schools still afford to have such a regimented view about dress codes?  Since when is dress code an indicator of bad conduct or bad discipline under learners?  Can dress code even be an indicator of scholastic performance as some may claim?

The conduct of learners on school premises should be the focus.  Daily, teachers are attacked, insulted, threatened by learners wearing their school uniforms and having hair styles conforming to all known and unknown school rules.  Did the Zeerust stabbing happen because of dress code issues or because of deep seated behavioural issues that led to a teacher being stabbed to death?

Teachers fear for their lives and this is not because learners use nail polish, make up, specific sorts of head dress or because learners wear certain types of shoes.  Instead teacher have to deal with learners who, regardless of socio-economic station, come out of toxic homes where parents reneged on their duty to teach the child basic manners and respect for teachers or for other people in general.

Interviews conducted with some first-year students at Growth Institute show that there are some undercurrents to be considered:

  1. First, there are small pockets of learners who believe that they have to misbehave because they are in the midst of some struggle politics. They believe that Government can be forced through violence to ensure service delivery, housing, infrastructure, etc.  For this group schools and teachers are symbols of a State that betrayed the youth and that has to take the brunt of the youth’s anger.
  2. Second, there are groups who consider bad behaviour in schools as a badge of honour. They argue that older generations also gave their teachers a hard time.  If, then, Grandpa could have given his teacher some form of backchat, then why can this generation not give teachers a hard time, too?  This group argues that there is no harm in their actions and that society overreact against their innocent horseplay.
  3. A third group are hardcore gangsters and they see the school as an extension of their territory. They own the right to sell drugs, alcohol, and blackmail a captive audience (other learners) much in the same way that prison gangs measure out their turf and battle for more control.
  4. The phenomenon of group thinking plays a powerful role in the lives of school learners. In order to be accepted by peers they sometimes have no choice in how they behave at school.  It is simply a matter of “either you are with us, or you are against us”.  Groupthink in schools is no longer just another theory to explain why South Africa sees so much school violence[2].
  5. Learners feel that teachers do not care whether the student will pass a grade or not. In some schools, teacher competency levels are shockingly low. Learners tell of teachers who are not able to explain concepts and who promptly threaten with punishment if a learner is “stupid”.  From time to time the media report about teachers that do not come to school or who attend to personal business while they are supposed to teach.
  6. Next, how can one teacher control a class of more than fifty learners? It has been proven more than once that underachievers in large classes are ignored and moved to some outer planet where they have to figure things out by themselves.  Underachievers experience frustration and they become angry at the whole education system.  No matter how good another teacher in another subject is, all teachers are seen as having an agenda of oppression against some learners.
  7. Underachievement and toxic households are not the only reason for ill-discipline in schools. In some of the upper crust schools, a sense of entitlement can be linked to discipline issues. Some learners really think that their parents can buy them out of any situation.  Some also think that they do not need schooling because their parents are wealthy enough so that the children never have to do a single day’s work.

We can conclude that disinterested teachers breed disinterested learners, and that overworked teachers breed disinterested learners.  On the other hand, teachers see the results of contemporary parenting skills.

And dress codes cannot hide the ugly underbelly of what teachers have to deal with on a daily basis.

[1] http://www.sabcnews.com/sabcnews/jeppe-girls-constitution-should-be-amended-education-department/

https://ewn.co.za/2018/10/01/law-firm-threatens-court-action-over-hijab-complaint-at-top-joburg-school

https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-10-01-jeppe-girls-high-halts-disciplinary-action-against-hijab-wearing-learners/

[2] http://ahero.uwc.ac.za/index.php?module=cshe&action=downloadfile&fileid=36807145012175749519581