B-BBEE Scorecards can be improved by investing in ABET for low skilled employees and unemployed members of poor communities. ABET equips previously disadvantaged individuals who have not had the opportunity to complete their basic education with foundational skills. These include English literacy and numeracy.
Literacy and numeracy skills are important. Literacy skills enable us to understand, evaluate, use and engage with written texts. This is so that we are able to participate meaningfully in society and make sense of the world. We also use these skills to achieve personal goals and ambitions; and attain knowledge to grow and develop inside and outside the world of work. Individuals who have completed all four levels of ABET are able to read, write, speak and listen in ways that enable them to communicate effectively. They are also able to integrate reading and writing with speaking, listening and viewing, as well as critical thinking.
In this modern economy, employees also need to have at least a basic understanding of numeracy. We use our basic numeracy skills to access, use and interpret, as well as communicate mathematical information and ideas. This enables us to manage the numeracy demands of various situations as adults. Moreover, individuals with numeracy skills are able to think logically and critically. We use these skills to solve problems and make sense of numbers, time, patterns and shapes for various activities inside and outside the world of work.
www.data.worldbank.org, provides information on South Africa’s literacy rate. Clearly, more will have to be done to solve the literacy and numeracy skills dilemma in the country. A vision for ABET – A literate South Africa within, reconstruction, development and social transformation provides further reading on government’s stance on ABET.
Skills development and B-BBEE
Skills development is considered a priority element by the B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice. Therefore, companies that achieve 40% of the targets established in the Skills Development Element earn points towards their B-BBEE Scorecards. Refer to https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/201409/a53-030.pdf for further reading on the B-BBEE Act. Meanwhile, https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/201409/29617s0.pdf provides information on the B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice.
ABET is geared specifically at low skilled employees and unemployed individuals who have not had the opportunity to complete their basic education and acquire foundational skills. Importantly, English literacy and basic numeracy enable us to continue learning so that we can adapt to changes and improve our circumstances. Research undertaken by the United Nations shows how access to skills and education can lift citizens out of poverty.
According to the United Nations, access to a basic education to acquire foundational skills, such as literacy and numeracy, can improve an individual’s earning by about 10%. Moreover, skills development helps grow a country’s gross-domestic product so that more jobs can be created for citizens. It is for these reasons that education is one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/sdg-goal-4 provides an overview of this goal, known as “SDG 4”. You will note that improving numeracy and literacy skills are also a focus of SDG 4. Improving literacy and numeracy skills are target 4.6 of this SDG.
https://dashboards.sdgindex.org/profiles/south-africa provides information on South Africa’s performance in terms of the various SDGs, to date. While we have made an impact on illiteracy, we have not done well in other areas of SDG 4. Poor performance in these areas threaten to undermine our fight against high illiteracy in the country. Notably, access to education has a direct bearing on all the SDGs.
Skills development and B-BBEE points
Skills development contributes up to 25 points towards your B-BBEE Scorecard. Companies with annual turnover of more than R50-million – also referred to as “Generic companies” – need to spend 6% of their payroll on B-BBEE skills development. This is in line with the B-BBEE Codes of Best Practice.
Points are allocated to the B-BBEE Scorecard when skills development is geared at previously disadvantaged individuals in general and black citizens who have a disability. This is achieved via, among others, ABET learnerships. ABET learnerships are available to both unemployed individuals and existing low skilled employees. The advantage of a learnership is that individuals gain practical working experience and earn an income while completing ABET. Considering the valuable working experience and skills gained, many learners join companies on a permanent basis after they have completed the ABET learnership.
Companies also earn points towards their B-BBEE scorecard if they employ previously disadvantaged individuals after they have completed their ABET learnership. Certainly, ABET programmes that are implemented in poor communities are also making an impact. This is by equipping people with English literacy and numeracy skills in areas where illiteracy is notoriously high. They, thus, remain an important driver of B-BBEE.
ABET beyond B-BBEE
However, the advantages of ABET go beyond merely complying with the B-BBEE Codes. Robust skills development programmes help to improve business performance. ABET, for example, equips low skilled employees with the basic skills that they need to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. Employees who have sound English literacy and numeracy skills can communicate effectively in both the written and spoken word. They are also able to read and are active listeners. Employees use their numeracy skills to think logically and critically to solve typical problems that they would encounter when performing their duties. Employees with good English literacy and numeracy skills are more engaged with the company and their tasks. They are, therefore, more productive, efficient and accurate. Because they can read and understand verbal instructions, they are also less prone to making mistakes and accidents.
ABET and B-BBEE
ABET is a very important driver of B-BBEE. This is considering that it is geared at individuals who require skills development the most. These are individuals who do not have the absolute basic skills that they need to secure or sustain their employment in a modern economy. Low skilled employees are increasingly being side lined as companies continue to harness more sophisticated methods of production. According to the World Bank, the number of poor South Africans could be reduced by more than half by 2030 through effective policy interventions. These need to focus on skilled jobs for the poor and igniting economic growth by increasing competition, policy certainty and promoting skilled migration. https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/southafrica/publication/south-africa-economic-update-policy-interventions-skilled-jobs-can-reduce-inequality-in-south-africa, provides further reading on the topic.
Individuals who have completed all four levels of ABET have a national qualification at a National Qualifications Framework Level 1. This is sufficient for entry-level work. This includes factory, construction, warehousing, mining or general work. However, many individuals who have completed ABET Level 4 will want to study further. Equipped with foundational numeracy and literacy skills, they will be able to complete their matric, which is at a National Qualifications Framework Level 4. Others may want to work towards attaining a National Certificate Vocational Qualification. These workplace-based skill sets are in very high demand in various industries. An NCV Qualification at Level 4 is equivalent to a National Senior Certificate. In this way, ABET is an important first step towards empowering previously marginalised South Africans to play a greater role in the economy. The English literacy and numeracy skills that they obtain also benefit their families, communities and society at large.
Helping with B-BBEE skills development
Triple E Training is helping many companies with their B-BBEE skills requirements. The company has been providing ABET solutions for the workplace for more than 30 years. Learn more about Triple E Training and its skills development programmes for low skilled employees. www.eee.co.za.