Welcome from the Fasset team to our summer edition of Facts, which is jam-packed with news about our new initiatives, developments, events, and successes.
CEO Ayanda Mafuleka reports on the inaugural Circle of Influence event which was held at the JSE in August, a thought leadership initiative that aims to make a difference to skills provision in our sector, collaborating with individuals, corporates, organisations, government, and activists who have the ability and the desire to transform education, share knowledge, plan and implement new ideas for a digital future.
On 26 September we hosted the AGM, where our Chairperson Njabulo Ngwenya and CEO reported on the 2018/19 financial year, the challenges that were faced and managed, and an encouraging list of highlights and achievements, and COO Elizabeth Thobejane explained plans and strategies going forward.
Ngwenya then gives us insight into the changes on the Seta landscape from the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS III) to the National Skills Development Plan and the extension of the Seta licence to 2030.
Our pilot YES (Youth Employment Services) programme that targets tertiary education graduates and matriculants is rolling out with the aim of opening up fresh new opportunities for unemployed youth.
We're also proud of our 'missing middle' bursary fund that is giving hundreds of students in various tertiary institutions the opportunity to achieve a valuable education. We hear from Courtney Michaels, who has completed her BCom degree and is now studying for a BCom Honours degree in Finance at UWC, and who says that without Fasset's bursary, she would not have been able to complete her studies.
We're heading into the busy end-of-year period and final exam time. Best of luck to all who are writing and best wishes for a highly productive few weeks until the summer break you have earned.
Marketing and Communications Manager
FROM THE CEO'S DESK - OUR NEW CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE
Fasset's Circle of Influence; the meeting of minds that shape our sector has launched. It's a new thought leadership initiative that is bringing together stakeholders, captains of industry, role players, influencers, associations, academia, student groups and others who are invested in contributing to the future of skills development - both within the financial and accounting services sector and further afield - and it launched at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in Sandton on 15 August 2019.
The key aim of the inaugural Fasset Circle of Influence is to make a real difference. To collaborate with those who have the capability and the will to drive greater skills development, transform education, prepare youth for a digital future, share knowledge and experience, develop strategies and plans together and then ensure implementation. It is a big ask, but it is essential for South Africa's future.
The theme of the inaugural event was 'SETAs of the future' and Global strategist, Abdullah Verachia, the keynote speaker and programme director, brilliantly highlighted the implications of 4IR with a wealth of food for thought. He reminded us that, "Everybody thinks 4IR is a digital revolution - and although the hard, technical skills are essential and are drivers of the change, softer skills that can't be digitised will become increasingly valuable. These include skills such as serendipity, awareness, creativity, entrepreneurship and ethics, for example."
Verachia also spoke about the importance of having the right conversations. "It's time to take an ecosystem approach in terms of skills and education. The type of raw skills needed among young people requires a view into the multiplicity of vocational training, thinking about micro-credentialing, and considering how to organise labour, skills and opportunities so that we can become the enablers. It is the forward-thinking opportunities in terms of skills that are required - a new way in which we think about skills and the adoption of skills, and in which we can get people to engage in terms of grit and determination."
A panel discussion followed, which was hosted by Verachia with three panellists, all of whom are passionate about young people succeeding in the world of work: Njabulo Ngwenya, Chairperson of Fasset; Khaya Sithole, Analyst at Kaya FM; and Manqoba Zungu, Co-founder of GetReady Skills. Topics that were discussed and debated with input from the floor included exposing high school learners to future skills, repositioning institutions of higher learning, catering for those who fall out of the formal system, promoting new hiring and working practices, and improving SETAs to bring them closer to the people who need them most.
This was a great start of what we trust will be a very successful Circle of Influence as we continue to build up a core group of people who are prepared to do much more than talk shop, but get down to business and establish working committees that will ensure that action is taken by the relevant interest groups to achieve real change, relevant progress, and a bright future for skills development in our sector and others.
The bottom line is our goal to achieve world-class finance and accountancy skills - and this event marked a step in the right direction.
We now look forward to building strong relationships and sharing ideas as an effective, influential and empowering platform, accountable to each other and to future generations, and to keeping the Fasset promise to 'make the future count.
Our next Circle of Influence session is in Cape Town on 27 November and we invite anyone who is interested to join us. The venue and times will be confirmed shortly. To book your place at the event, please email Vusi Mahlangu at Vusi.Mahlangu@fasset.org.za.
Chief Executive Officer
FASSET ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING AND THANK YOU FUNCTION HIGHLIGHTS BRIGHTER FUTURE
The Fasset 2018/19 AGM's exuberant closing - with international treasure, the superb Soweto Gospel Choir leading the delighted audience in Miriam Makeba's joyful Pata pata song with clapping and dancing - highlighted the inspirational spirit of the gathering, held at The Venue in Melrose Arch on 26 September.
From the outset, the excellence of the event was matched by both the achievements of Fasset through the past year and the commitment to improve, to change where necessary, and to grow.
As guests arrived, talented Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble musicians set the relaxed tone for the AGM, which was emceed by well-known CA and commentator, Khaya Sithole, who directed the proceedings throughout the afternoon with insight and humour - and a promise not to make accountant jokes.
Both Njabulo Ngwenya, Fasset Chairman, and Ayanda Mafuleka, Fasset CEO, compared Fasset to Africa's best-loved tree, the baobab, with Mafuleka quoting the poem, Baobab, by Wayne Visser.
'The baobab tree stands proud and strong
She serves her people as a midwife
It's been thus generations long
She's Africa's great Tree of Life.'
Ngwenya likened Fasset to the baobab tree, which is deeply rooted in the soil of Africa and exhibits strength because of, sometimes in spite of, its environment, adding, "This will not change wherever the skills path leads us."
In his address, Ngwenya reminded guests of the great need for what Fasset does and that the skills upgrade is a countrywide call that must be answered if South Africa is to realise its potential. He said it is encouraging that South Africa repeatedly ranks highly in the World Economic Forum ratings for the robustness of its financial services, characterised by efficiency and sound practices. "Fasset has worked hard to maintain this rating, recognising skills as the sector's key currency."
Ngwenya was pleased to answer the question of whether Fasset has succeeded in upgrading skills across South Africa with a resounding 'yes'. "We are succeeding in driving the country to realise its economic and social potential," he said.
Ngwenya said the Board's focus this year was on dramatically reducing the errant spending of the previous year and the Seta's performance against targets in the service level agreement with the DHET. "Last year our performance stood at 54%, which was a little out of character for Fasset which had performed consistently in previous years. However, by 31 March 2019, we had clawed back considerable pride, ending the year on 62% achievement of targets - the highest percentage of the last three years and marking the end to the lean years." Adding administration targets, which are essential to operations, brings the tally up to 72%. He said, "This is a noble organisation in a noble sector and we must remember that we owe the sector and the country our best at all times."
Mafuleka, in her first address to a Fasset AGM as CEO, having taken over the helm in January this year, said that as a past beneficiary of Fasset, "I am fully aware of the power we hold to impact lives, upskill youth, and deliver a skilled workforce to a thriving sector."
She thanked the Fasset team for working hard to ensure an unqualified audit and the best performance the Seta has seen in three years were achieved, and added, "Despite major organisational, geographical, executive and board changes, the Fasset staff achieved an admirable performance against the targets of NSDS III."
Mafuleka said, "As we celebrate having overcome immense challenges over the last year, we recognise that this is all done to achieve our overarching goal: to change the lives of individuals, to impact positively on families and communities, and to enhance the destiny of societies."
She listed two great successes as the Seta's financial performance (see Fasset's Annual Integrated Report 2018/2019 on www.fasset.co.za for details) and supply chain management. Through proactive action, Fasset sealed past gaps and reduced irregular expenditure, and significantly improved in all audit outcomes on performance and financial information.
Top 2018/19 highlights for Mafuleka were:
She said, "The future of Fasset is secure as we continue to strive for excellence in delivering against our mandate and governance requirements - all while creating the workforce of the future for our sector in a strategic manner, with the right checks and balances in place."
- 52 of 72 DHET targets were met
- A highly successful and oversubscribed Fasset Bursary Scheme
- More than 10,500 unemployed youngsters enrolled in programmes ranging from learnerships to academic support and bursaries
- 5,000 unemployed candidates were registered for completion or completed their programmes
- Successful career awareness campaigns were conducted
The presentation of financial statements, the Seta annual budget and business plan, and the tabling of the strategic plan and annual performance plan were efficiently completed and the proceedings brought to a rousing close with a stunning performance by the Soweto Gospel Choir.
CHANGING FOR THE BETTER - TO NSDP
Njabulo Ngwenya, Fasset Board Chairperson, gives us insight into the changes on the Seta landscape and the extension of the licence to 2030.
eF: What is the background in Seta legislature over the past five years?
NN: The last five years have seen the Setas continue to execute the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS III) which was extended twice as the plan for Setas was debated by the Department of Higher Education and Training. NSDS III started in 2011 and was due to end in 2016 but as the new plan still under development, it was extended for two years twice, and it will conclude on 31 March 2020. At that stage, Setas will implement the National Skills Development Plan which links to the NDP and which was gazetted on 7 March 2019.
Prior to the gazetting, Setas responded to proposals to merge some of the entities, such as Fasset with Bank and Insurance Setas, to be known as the FBI SETA. The sector expressed its views on the proposed merger, citing the good work Fasset has been doing and that the merger could undermine the close ties that have been forged with the sector.
The re-establishment of the Setas was gazetted on 22 July 2019 and they will continue as they are through to 2030, giving us a 10-year licence, as opposed to the five-year licences we've had to date.
eF: What is the present situation?
NN: Setas are to become permanent structures, with more central control by the DHEST, although this is not clearly outlined as yet. What is clear is that there is increased focus on research to ensure better planning of interventions that the Setas implement, and a stronger emphasis on monitoring and evaluation.
The NSDP gives nine strategic outcomes that form the basis of the Seta five-year Strategic Plan and related Annual Performance Plans, which relate to skills development growth and expansion, small business support initiatives, assisting basic education to improve the quality of STEM subject candidates, career guidance initiatives and worker initiated training.
eF: How is Fasset impacted?
NN: Essentially there are changes to the Fasset model that need to be made. While a few of our initiatives remain the same, there are some interventions Fasset will be implementing for the first time. The 2019/2020 period will see various pilot programmes offered, inter alia, YES placement initiatives for unemployed Graduates and matriculants, TVET bursaries, TVET lecturer development programmes, Community College programmes, and a small business support programme. This will see Fasset needing to bolster the resources of the Grants and Projects team to ensure successful delivery of the interventions.
Fasset research will also be adapted to better deal with the requirements. Being able to more clearly define skills requirements and identify jobs and job categories into the future especially with technology drivers, technology, globalisation and legislation demanding that Setas be at the coal face of the changes. The need for FASSET to be the go-to authority for skills needs identification and implementation is critical and is greatly dependant on the research that Fasset implements.
eF: How will this impact the industry?
NN: The Seta operations will hopefully be better matched to what industry requires, with more focused research and increased industry engagement.
eF: What are the strengths and challenges of the change?
NN: With Setas now becoming permanent structures and with the need to re-apply for licences every five years, it means there can be longer-term planning and better approaches to implementing projects that require longer-term initiatives, as is especially prevalent in the Fasset sector. Challenges could be that Setas will be in longer-term implementation contracts so would need to monitor implementation a lot more closely.
eF: What is Fasset's track record in adapting to the changing landscape?
NN: Fasset has strived to be innovative to meet the requirements of industry, and the 2019/2020 year has seen various pilot projects being implemented that fit into the strategic intent of the NSDP as it transforms itself to better serve the sector we operate in.
eF: Looking ahead with these changes in place?
NN: The changes will allow Fasset to be more responsive and will also ensure that we stay ahead of the skills needs of the sector and contribute to the increase in employability of South Africans.
"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." Barack Obama
LIFELONG LEARNING OFFERS A WEALTH OF BENEFITS TO THOUSANDS
Lifelong learning offers a wealth of benefits - and in today's world of rapid technological development and a dramatic increase in the amount of information available to us, it's an imperative for employees and SMEs alike to stay ahead of the game.
Fasset's Lifelong Learning programme is delivering a range of short courses on topics that have been listed as relevant by Fasset members and researched as valuable for the ongoing development for professionals.
Sello Malatsi, Fasset Projects Specialist, says, "Lifelong Learning is one of our flagship programmes that is enjoyed by most of our stakeholders, and in this financial year, we are targeting 24,500 individuals working in the sector."
He says the Lifelong Learning courses are designed to improve the general productivity at firms; to provide knowledge that enables staff to be more effective in their workplace and sector; to ensure Continuous Professional Development (CPD), which is needed for firms and members of professional bodies to maintain their status of approved workplace providers of learning programmes; and to complement the programmes offered to Fasset employer members.
The Lifelong Learning workshops, specifically for Fasset registered employers within the Financial and Accounting Sector, are targeted at different level employees. For example, soft skills courses such as Emotional Intelligence, Team Management, Business Communication and Report Writing are for entry level positions and trainees; technical courses such as Budget and Tax, IRFS, and Compliance with Changes in Legislation are for Trainees, Accountants, Auditors, HR Specialists, and junior and middle managers. Skills Development Facilitators assess the content of the course and extend invitations to relevant staff members who could benefit from the training.
The courses are presented by selected experts in the relevant field, at various venues around the country, depending on the responses to the course offerings.
Malatsi adds, "The success of these courses is consistently monitored and measured after training through feedback on the content and quality, which is also where potential areas of improvement for subsequent courses are identified."
YES WE CAN! FASSET IMPACTS YOUNG FUTURES
Fasset is launching an exciting YES (Youth Employment Services) programme that will open up fresh new opportunities for unemployed youth, in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa's YES initiative launched last year.
The pilot, which is rolling out in the 2019/2020 financial year, targets tertiary education graduates and matriculants, providing opportunities for them to be placed with Fasset-registered employers nationally to gain a work skill component aligned to a Fasset-funded unit standard, as well as work readiness training. A proportion of the beneficiaries will be placed at small businesses which will provide benefits both for the learners gaining experience and for the SMEs who will have additional employees with limited additional costs.
According to Amos Nokoane, Fasset Project Manager, the first intake will benefit 600 youngsters - 450 graduates and 150 matriculants - who will gain work experience in jobs aligned both to their qualifications and to Fasset's top 10 scarce skills, within the companies that have applied to participate in the programme. The work readiness training and monthly stipends for the youth will be funded by Fasset. "Fasset will also support the employers and conduct site visits to assess the successful implementation of the programme."
He adds, "With youth unemployment at a record high in South Africa, we're committed as a Seta to make every effort to create employment and training opportunities. We are confident that this programme will be enthusiastically embraced by employers, SMEs, and the young beneficiaries, and will be approved by the Board for continuation in the future."
"The foundation of every state is the education of its youth." Diogenes, philosopher (circa 300BC)
FASSET CONTRIBUTES R22M TO 'MISSING MIDDLE' UWC STUDENTS
Hundreds of 'missing middle' students from the Economic and Management Sciences Faculty of the University of the Western Cape have been able to achieve their dreams through Fasset bursary funding of over R22 million.
Courtney Michaels, who has completed her BCom degree and is now studying for a BCom Honours degree in Finance at UWC, says that without Fasset's bursary, she would not have been able to complete her studies.
Courtney, who has a way with numbers and an interest in learning how to work with money, found out soon after she enrolled at university that it takes money to learn how to make money.
Born and raised in Heideveld in the Athlone area in Cape Town by a single mother, Courtney was part of the missing middle income bracket, so NSFAS would not accept her for funding.
To qualify for a Fasset bursary, students need to prove that their annual household income is not more than R600,000, in the missing middle grouping. Ronald Arendse, Accounting Lecturer at UWC and the Fasset Project Manager, explains, "We have students with a great deal of potential and who can go on to have a positive impact on their communities, but who have a constant struggle with funding. These bursaries give them a chance to succeed." The Fasset bursaries cover tuition, textbooks, transport and accommodation expenses.
Courtney says, "In my first year NSFAS covered only half my tuition with no travelling or book allowance, and my Mom ended up covering the rest. In second year I applied for a bursary, which also only covered half. That made for a financially stressful situation."
Last year Courtney applied for and was granted funding from Fasset specifically available for deserving students in the missing middle category. "I was extremely grateful because the rest of my fees and textbooks were covered - and that stress was off my Mom's shoulders. I could concentrate on my studies, complete my degree and graduate well."
She adds, "With my basic education needs covered, I am able to give back to the community, and volunteer at a creche and an animal shelter - both of which are rewarding experiences. I have an education and I am able to pursue further studies, thanks to Fasset."
Courtney is one of many UWC students who have benefited from Fasset's initiatives.
"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning." Benjamin Franklin