Leading ABET provider helps “generic entities” score maximum points for sound B-BBEE practice

Triple E Training’s ABET Bursaries are helping companies gain maximum points under the Skills Development component of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) scorecard.

The AET Bursaries are in line with the Department of Trade & Industry’s (DTI) amended-BBEE Codes of Good Practice that came into effect at the end of 2019. They require large companies to invest 2,5% of their yearly payroll on bursaries for indigenous South Africans, Coloureds and Indians at institutions of higher education. Earning companies up to four points on the scorecard, these amendments also allow for funding programmes at schools and adult basic education training (ABET), or Adult Education Training (AET).

The Department of Basic Education defines ABET “as the general conceptual foundation towards lifelong learning and development, consisting of knowledge, skills and attitudes required for social, economic and political participation, as well as transformation applicable to a range of contexts” It further notes that “ABET is flexible, developmental and targeted at the specific needs of particular audiences and, ideally, provides access to nationally recognised certificates”.

Triple E Training has been providing quality adult learning, including literacy and numeracy, on behalf of businesses for almost 30 years.

“We remain proud of the fact that we have taught many people how to read and write English and how to understand and work with numbers. Basic literacy skills and numeracy are the foundation for further learning and meaningful participation in everyday life. English training and AET Maths support workforce participation, productivity and the broader economy, while also impacting on social and health outcomes,” Marco Maree of Triple E Training says.

Adult training with an impact

He says that the company’s three week fulltime bursary programmes remain extremely popular among“generic entities”, large companies with an annual turnover of more than R50 million at which the Codes are directed.

“Specifically developed for unskilled candidates to make people more employable, Triple E Training’s adult training programmes have a very high progression rate,” Maree says. “Our bursary programmes, which are founded upon English and Numeracy, are also ready for qualification. Moreover, they allow for multiple intakes a year and are immediately available. They can be completed face to face or via live coaching to further assist companies that are eligible for measurement in terms of the Sector Code scorecard.”

Triple E Training’s bursaries are also the most affordable on the market, providing companies with value for money. Included in the cost of the bursary are all training materials for learning, assessments and documentation required for submission. This is in addition to a final project report and comprehensive project management from start to completion of the AET Math and literacy training.

A fresh approach to skills development

Notably, the amendments have reinvigorated the way in which “generic entities” approach skills development.

In the past, skills development contributed as much as eight points to the scorecard. Companies were also required to spend 6% of their yearly payroll on skills development initiatives. 

While skills development now only accounts for six points on the scorecard and just 3% of the annual payroll needs to be spent on this aspect, the amendments have introduced other important elements, such as the funding of higher education.

These changes are in response to the nationwide #FeesMustFall campaign in 2016 to introduce free higher education in the country. The amendments enable the private sector to help shoulder this enormous responsibility with the government.

At the same time, companies have also been given more mandate by the authorities to decide where they prefer to invest their training budgets, bearing in mind that the amended Codes allow for spending on both basic and higher education.

Furthermore, categories for training through internships, apprenticeships and learnerships of unemployed people according to the size of a company’s workforce are now combined. These include ABET or AET, such as basic literacy skills and numeracy, for unemployed South Africans.

Previously, scorecard ratings were based on the number of unemployed people being trained by companies. To comply with the requirements, the number of people undergoing training had to constitute at least 2,5% of a company’s total staff complement.

There is also no specific mention made of “unemployed” South Africans in the amended B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice and just six points are now allocated to the scorecard for the number of previously marginalised people employed by a company.

The amended Codes also do not precisely specify that unemployed people need to be prioritised for skills development by companies, although this remains a major focus for the government. This means that companies can now spend 25% of their required training budget of 3,5% on inhouse adult literacy and numeracy programmes, among other“soft” skills as part of adult education.

Meanwhile, previous requirements regarding spending on disabled black South Africans have not been altered. Companies that invest 0,3% of their yearly payroll into this aspect of skills development will, therefore, continue to earn four points on the scorecard.

Bursaries are listed as category 2.1.1.2 on the Skills Development Element table

CategorySkills Development ElementWeighting pointsCompliance Target
2.1.1.2Skills Development Expenditure on Bursaries for Black Students at Higher Institutions42,5%

The compliance target for 2.1.1.2 of the Skills Development scorecard is based on the overall demographic representation of black people as defined in the Regulations of the Employment Equity Act and Commission of Employment Equity Report as amended from time to time.

A company must have the following in place to receive points:

  • Workplace Skills Plan
  • Annual Training Report
  • A SETA approved Pivotal Report
  • Implemented Priority Skills programmes

Initiatives implemented under paragraph 2.1.1.1 cannot be counted under paragraph 2.1.1.2 and vice versa. Training costs, such as accommodation, catering, travelling, Skills Development Facilitator (SDF) or training manager, do not apply to Skills Development Expenditure recognised in paragraph 2.1.1.2. A bursary is a grant made to or for students who are registered at educational institutions established by or registered with the Departments of Basic Education or the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Legitimate training costs for Bursaries:

  • Training Institution fees
  • Textbooks or other learning materials
  • Funding for subsistence or accommodation during the period of study

Mandatory sectoral training, namely health and safety, do not contribute towards qualify as skills development.

The criteria for bursaries are set out in the Learning Programme Matrix under Category A for skills development

CategoryProgrammeNarrative descriptionDelivery modeLearning siteLearning achievement
ABursaries or scholarshipsInstitution-based theoretical instruction that is formally assessed by educational institutions established by or registered with the Department of Higher Education & TrainingInstitutional instructionInstitutions, such as universities and colleges, schools and ABET providersRecognised theoretical knowledge resulting in the achievement of a degree, diploma or certificate issued by an accredited or registered formal institution of learning

Active participation in South Africa’s economy

Maree says the amendments are geared at bolstering productivity to create employment in a country that has been grappling with lacklustre economic growth and joblessness for many years.

“The focus has turned to ensure active participation in the local economy, as opposed to merely learning and temporary job creation,” he says. “Companies are now able to upskill their own employees to bolster productivity and efficiencies. This is opposed to only focusing on training unemployed people to meet scorecard requirements in an approach that does not have a similar impact as those interventions geared specifically at raising the efficiency levels of permanent staff. It is also not always feasible to provide additional training and employment, considering the high costs involved. This is especially the case in challenging economic environments, such as these when people are being retrenched. Meanwhile, businesses that create an opportunity for training and permanent work for a single learner now qualify for the five bonus points for absorption, which is a one-level increase on their scorecards.”

Training beyond the scorecard

While Maree lauds the role that B-BBEE policies are playing in ensuring meaningful participation of all South Africans in the larger economy, he says that responsible companies approach training in a manner that transcends merely complying with scorecard requirements.

“Certainly, the two-points increase to the new procurement guidelines will help accelerate transformation in many industries by continuing to incentivise large companies to assist in empowering and growing black businesses. In so doing, many more micro enterprises and qualifying small enterprises will be introduced to supply chains. However, reputable corporate citizens know that it is their ethical and moral duty to help raise South Africa’s skills levels to grow the economy. This is exactly what is needed to help solve the high unemployment problem, especially among young black citizens,” he concludes.

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