Spring is always a cheerful time, with a spirit of hope and the promise of fresh beginnings. Even the birds seem to sing with renewed enthusiasm.

At Fasset, we have been viewing the developing season through new windows on the world, in the heart of Randburg, where we recently relocated. In fact, the SETA itself feels in many ways like an entity reborn, with new teams being formed to take us through to the next phase of the skills development journey, the National Skills Development Plan, which comes into effect in April 2020.

The many new faces are an addition to our team and are quickly adapting to the Fasset life, with its mix of challenge, camaraderie and achievement.

The process of insourcing many functions previously handled by consultants is almost complete and functions are nearly at full strength. But business as usual is a thing of the past - it is now business on steroids.

Among the many SETA initiatives that benefit thousands of learners in our sector each year, lifelong learning resonates particularly strongly with me, as it encourages the development of individuals equipped to deal not only with the technical aspects of their jobs, but the all-important relationship building elements.

In the coming months, we have some exciting events planned, including our Learner Professional Development programme, which is aligned to our Lifelong Learning initiative. These are extremely popular events on our agenda and are usually heavily oversubscribed, so we urge you to stake your claim to a seat as soon as registration opens in late October. The sessions add great value to our delegates, whether the topic on the table is laws and professional requirements, or soft skills.

Starting in late October and into December, we are offering one 'soft skill' training event, focusing on effective business presentation and public speaking, and another human resource training event focusing on strategic planning and management, and balanced scorecard essentials. Keep an eye on our website for registration updates and be sure not to miss out. Lifelong Learning events will continue through the financial year, ending with the sought-after budget and tax update in March, which gives employees an invaluable opportunity to keep their knowledge current and upgrade their skills. We hope to see you at our final workshops of the year, as we reflect a little on what we have achieved while planning how we are going to change the world in 2019. We also look forward, with anticipation, to a festive season to be spent with family and friends.

Zandile Skosana
Marketing Manager


It was a great privilege for me to address stakeholders who took time out of their busy schedules to attend our annual general meeting on the 27th of September, and to share our successes (and some challenges) of the 2017/18 financial year.

These are people who have encountered Fasset through a project, a training programme facilitated to meet skills needs in their organisation or as like-minded fellow members of the skills development community. Some present had even directly benefited from a Fasset intervention - their presence was particularly heart-warming, as we do what we do, for them.

Also in the audience were many members of staff, who keep the SETA delivering in the most meaningful way. They, especially, look forward to the unveiling of our annual report, as they are responsible for the stories it tells of individuals whose lives have been improved, redirected or given renewed hope because they crossed paths with Fasset.

This year's report brings another year's worth of effort, endeavour and extra mile commitment, documenting the views of beneficiaries such as Lukho Fuyani, who found the extra tuition provided as part of our academic support programme invaluable in enhancing his understanding of accounting and who says 'Fasset is true game changer'; and KPMG accounting training Nangamso Dumalisile, who didn't know how she would pay off her NSFAS grant on graduation until Fasset stepped in with the NSFAS loan repayment grant repayment scheme to set her mind at rest and allow it to concentrate on her career, rather than her debt. Lukho and Nangamso are just two young people who 'star' in our annual report. There are many more, both on the pages of the report and working in the sector, who are on their way to a fulfilling life thanks to the support they have received.

Without their stories, our work would be meaningless. Instead, it is shaping up to become that lasting legacy we are striving to build, whose impact will go beyond the current recipients of training to the quality of life of their families and the career choices of their children.

To all who attended our AGM, we thank you and we look forward to working with you during 2018/19 and beyond to build a finance and accounting services sector grounded in knowledge and expertise, and populated by individuals who wish not only to enrich their own career journeys, but who hold the interests of the sector near and dear and are determined to leave their own lasting legacy on its professionalism.

With the almost R440 million budgeted for projects during this year, there's a lot of legacies poised for lasting impact. Until we chat again, go well in the name of skills development.

Elizabeth Thobejane
Acting Chief Executive Officer


After a year of hard work and dedication to achieving the ideals of skills development, a little merriment and a pat on the back are well earned. The perfect opportunity arose during the highlight of the Fasset calendar: the annual general meeting, held this year on 27 September at The Venue, Melrose Arch, Johannesburg.

Board members, government officials, employers, professional body personnel, colleagues from fellow SETAs and training providers donned their finest threads - as only South Africans can do during the month of culture and heritage - to celebrate a year of 'placing high value on skills development and training'.

This was the theme adopted for the 2017/18 annual report, which was proudly presented to the 100-strong audience. And it came through clearly in the addresses of Chairperson Njabulo Ngwenya and Acting Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Thobejane.

As they recapped the year's greatest achievements, both reminded the audience that it was all about the beneficiaries and the benefit they experienced from having the Fasset factor in their lives.

Njabulo explained that Fasset's main objective is to deliver on its mandate, and that this depends on maintaining superior governance standards, advancing sector transformation, attracting and retaining high-quality skills, and producing research that is relevant and a reliable foundation for effective strategic planning.

'There is a great need for what we do and the upgrade of skills is a countrywide call that must be answered constantly,' he said, as he pledged the Board's total commitment to the Fasset team in its drive for greater impact through recent strategic shifts, stronger engagement with stakeholders and continued professionalism and accountability in all activities.

Elizabeth told guests that the current financial year is devoted to wider community involvement, closer cooperation with the sector and maximum benefit from interventions. 'We hold people's lives, careers and futures in our hands and we must ensure that the impact we make does justice to that hefty responsibility,' she stressed.

Directing the day's programme - which also allowed for group and panel discussion on topics of common interest - was the irrepressible Yavi Madurai, doyenne of digital transformation.

When she brought business to a close in the late afternoon, the audience was treated to performances that proved that South Africa does, indeed, have talent. Dancer and choreographer, Oscar Buthelezi, let his feet do the talking, while poet, performing artist and entrepreneur Naima Mclean demonstrated the power of words. The last laugh was left to popular comedian Thapelo 'Tips' Seemise (aka Shampoonaiza).

The meeting gave all a chance to reflect on the successes of the past year and look to the future with hope and excitement, each audience member having been touched in some way by Fasset and its work. Njabulo was no exception. He recounted his experience in 2006 as a beneficiary of the acclaimed Thuthuka programme, a partnership between Fasset and the South African Institute for Chartered Accountants to improve the numeracy, literacy and accounting skills of matriculants.

Now a leading light in accounting as Director: Operations Support for Visa, he embodies the Fasset force for good and proves that the SETA truly deserves its AGM pat on the back.


One sometimes hears that 'it's not worth the paper it's printed on' in reference to certain qualifications. And, if the provider is unscrupulous or the course unsuitable, it is probably true. But training can be worth every cent it costs and then some.

More and more South African companies are ploughing money into skills upliftment, the initial impetus having been provided by government's introduction of skills development legislation in 2000. At the outset, certain companies saw skills levies as another tax to be paid grudgingly and written off as just another expense. Over the years, though, that attitude has changed, as more companies realise the importance of squeezing each rand to extract the last drop of value and as the SETAs have answered the call for bolder, better and more innovative programmes geared to meet the real needs of companies - large and small.

Ensuring mileage from training investment is becoming easier, as the understanding of what works and what doesn't increases.

An article in Forbes offers a few guidelines, suggesting that the most effective training is done in short bites, not marathon sessions, each followed by implementation that becomes habit. Planning is essential, as is a strategy that clearly defines a handful of core skills and competencies needing attention, it continues.

Before spending a dime, though, ask the question, says Forbes: 'Will the training change the way we do stuff around here? If not, take your team to the movies instead.'

Skills commentator, Conor Engelbrecht, posting on skillsportal.co.za, stresses that skills development is an investment and it matters. 'It is how we can ensure that the South Africa of the future, the South Africa we leave behind for our children, is built on a solid foundation that will stand the test of time,' he writes.

Finding anyone who dismisses training in any form as a waste of time is almost impossible. Aristotle said: 'Excellence is an art won by training and habituation.' Mark Twain put it is this way: 'Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.' And President Cyril Ramaphosa, launching the Youth Employment Service, stressed the progress that has been made, adding: 'there is much more we need to do to match the skills being produced in our institutions with the needs of our economy, both now and into the future'.

Training is far from a perfect science. Respected human resources specialist Suzanne Hattingh has studied the Human Resources Development Strategy 2030 and has raised some red flags. 'The document,' she says on skillsportal.co.za, 'is based on the flawed assumption that if we carry on doing the same things we have been doing for 10 years, but just increase the numbers and the number and types of institutions, we will address skills needs, solve unemployment and ensure a better life for all. The focus is on increasing the numbers that we push into and through the system - not on the impact measured in terms of the value added on the demand side.'

There is not much in the document, she says, that addresses how many learners will find employment or be prepared to start viable businesses; or anything that reflects an understanding of Clem Sunter's warning that the world of work has changed forever and mass employment conditions are last century.

Debate will continue, opinions will differ, and a changing world of work will demand innovative thought, but one principle remains and it's best summed in a well-known quote by management guru, Peter Drucker: 'If you think training is expensive, try ignorance.'


Her childhood may have been spent primarily in the small town of Orkney, North West, but there is nothing small about the dreams of Ntsiuoa Makhutla.

Ntsiuoa is one of the lucky few who knew from an early age where she was going in life, if not how she was going to get there. 'I have seen myself only as a Chartered Accountant from as far back as I can remember,' she explains. 'Accounting is something I have always loved and there was no room in my mind for any other career option.'

That single-mindedness has taken Ntsiuoa all the way to the University of Free State (UFS), where she is currently in the third year of her B Acc Honours degree.

But the road has not been without potholes and, to realise her accounting goals, she needed not only a financial saviour, but an angel of emotional support. She found both in Fasset, whose academic support grant came to her attention when she arrived at UFS in 2016 to enrol. By that time, she had on her CV a B Com in Accounting from the National University of Lesotho and five years of work experience in the cellular phone and humanitarian support sectors, jobs that allowed her to support her mother and siblings.

Now able to return to study, Fasset has taken Ntsiuoa closer to a wonderful future in corporate finance by financing her tuition and accommodation, and adding for good measure extra classes and business talks.

'The bursary has meant the world to me,' she says. 'Initially, I struggled to understand the work as I had not studied for five years. The extra classes help me to catch up on the latest developments in the industry and give me a chance to ask questions as part of a smaller group of students. And Fasset staff are always on campus to discuss my concerns with me and provide a shoulder to cry on during rough days.'

Thanks to the motivational talks that are part of the Fasset programme, this beneficiary has already registered her own company, which will no doubt be a great outlet for her considerable skills in the future.

Without her trusted SETA companion, it is doubtful whether Ntsiuoa's name would have appeared on the student roll during the April 2018 UFS graduation ceremony. When she finally has the coveted scroll for her honours degree, she will concentrate on attaining her Certificate in the Theory of Accounting (CTA) and completing her articles.

In the meantime, she has some wise words for those who will occupy the lecture halls long after she has moved on: 'Know who you are - your weaknesses and strengths - use the available financial resources effectively and, no matter how hard things seem, never give up.'

In his message to students honoured at the April graduation, UFS rector Prof Francis Petersen described his institution as 'a place that inspires excellence and transforms lives'. He could well have been talking about Fasset.


Fasset is putting a new slant on 'Go big or go home' by going big at home, shedding the structure of the past and replacing it with a vibrant new organisational design that is responsive to needs both internal and external and that will streamline vital functions to enhance performance in the final stretch of the National Skills Development Strategy and into the new era of the National Skills Development Plan.

The insourcing of certain functions and the decision on how they slot into the overall picture follow an in-depth analysis of the organisation's governance and performance strengths and weaknesses following the upheavals of the last two years.

The current structure, given the Board's stamp of approval during the last financial year, accommodates finance, supply chain management, information technology and human resources - previously contracted out as non-core functions - bringing them under the direct control of Fasset management for the first time. This will ensure greater control and accountability, and a fresh perspective that will be good for both the SETA and its stakeholders.

In the past year, nine new staff members have been welcomed to the Fasset family, boosting the total complement from 26 at 2017/18 year-end to 37. More recruits will arrive as managers such as Chief Financial Officer, Zanoxolo Koyana, and Human Resources Manager, Thokozani Nongauza, continue to capacitate their departments.

Many of the newcomers are part of the finance team, whose primary functions are the efficient management and judicious allocation of funds to ensure a return to the clean audit status of past years, and support for the operations teams in ensuring that skills development has its intended impact on professionalism and transformation in the sector.

Thokozani Nongauza
Human Resource Manager


'The supply chain stuff is really tricky,' said Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, during a recent interview. And if Pretoria Boys' most famous alumnus, who heads the second largest provider of solar power systems in the United States and intends to colonise Mars, finds it challenging, anyone can be forgiven for viewing it as a minefield.

Recent history has prompted Fasset to focus very strongly on this tricky side of its business, in its drive to run a tight skills ship fuelled by sound governance practices and effective procurement procedures.

The process began after irregularities emerged during 2015/16. Gaps in the system were identified and plugged, the monitoring and evaluation components of projects were overhauled and internal controls were tightened up. Penalties were also announced for supplier tardiness, whether it amounted to poor performance or non-performance.

A dedicated supply chain management (SCM) department followed, with the SETA welcoming aboard Lebogang Tsagae as its head. Lebogang cut his supply chain teeth over many years in the public sector, most recently managing the function at the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing SETA.

He has lost no time in digesting the issues on the full plate before him. Foremost were the adverse finding of the Auditor-General, which necessitated a plan to ensure that the offending actions will not be repeated. With this went drafting of a supply chain management policy and procedure manual and the consolidation of all SCM processes in one vital office.

There is no room for manipulation of the Tsagae system. 'Budget will be allocated for each procurement, requisitions will be approved before the start of each process and end-users will not be allowed to source competitive quotes for themselves,' he states.

Lebogang sees his role as a partnership with suppliers and has some helpful advice for those wishing to do business with Fasset.

'Stakeholders should familiarise themselves with the criteria for each project, as they are designed to weed out early those who will not be able to meet the requirements. This ensures that neither Fasset nor the supplier wastes valuable time and resources on unsuitable bids.

'Most importantly, bidders should get their proposals in on time, as there is no leeway on the deadlines set.'

However, the first step to doing business with the SETAs, he stresses, is to register on the centralised supplier database hosted by National Treasury, which has been instituted to eliminate duplication of effort and cost, while providing one resource for those seeking suppliers or projects across many government departments and market sectors.

Lebogang may not have pioneered the design of a 'train' with a top speed of 1 200km/h, as Elon has, but he certainly recognises that SCM is the engine of business success and he is looking forward to nurturing a healthy work relationship with stakeholders and perfecting the quick turnaround payment promise for goods and services delivered.

Lebogang Tsagae
Supply Chain Manager


Among the host of new functions that constitute the Fasset of 2018, none is more important than finance. After all, the world of skills development revolves around money and those holding the purse strings on behalf of levy payers have to bring their A-game at all times.

Zanoxolo Koyana certainly fits that bill. Since he joined Fasset almost a year ago as Chief Financial Officer, this finance fundi has busied himself investigating appropriate systems, perusing processes and recruiting his dream team of those who share his fascination for income statements, ledgers and reconcile bottom lines.

Fasset finance was a blank sheet when Zano arrived, as the function had been outsourced for all 17 years of the SETA's existence. He now heads a team of six, each selected for his or her accounting acumen and enthusiasm for the skills facilitation work of the SETA.

'Our focus is to improve internal controls by reviewing and implementing updated finance policies, and to improve procurement processes to ensure full compliance with legislation,' he says. 'This involves enhancing governance, eliminating any non-adherence to the rules and ensuring financial information of the highest quality.'

Zano holds that applying accounting standards diligently and consistently is the key to effective corporate financial management and integrity of information, backed by a modern information and communications technology (ICT) system for all transactions.

While in the finance wing at Fasset's new Randburg home, much is going on to safeguard the funds contributed by employers to uplift the skills levels of the sector, it is business as usual for stakeholders, who, during discussions with SETA management, expressed their total confidence in the new department's capacity to fulfil its fiduciary obligations.

'The sector can expect a continuation of the efficiency and effectiveness they have become accustomed to in dealing with Fasset,' Zano states. 'We are also working closely with the projects team - the main contact point with recipients of Fasset grants - to align the work of the two departments.'

The update of finance policies has begun and the team is developing a finance procedures manual setting out the standards to which the SETA must adhere.

Ultimately, Zano would like to see full automation as an alternative to paperwork, which is in line with the goals stated in Fasset's multifaceted 'green' policy aimed at reducing the SETA's impact on the environment in every area of business.

Zanoxolo Koyana
Chief Financial Officer


The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines grant as 'a gift (for a particular purpose)'. Nothing could be more accurate for the thousands of individuals whose lives have been immeasurably enriched through the financial support of Fasset. They have, indeed, been 'gifted'.

Grants keep the Fasset world revolving and the projects that skill the sector birthing top talent for tomorrow, and they reflect the worth of the partnership between levy payers and the SETA that has created an industry in which all can take pride.

This financial year, the gift of grants will be distributed earlier than before, as the system has been rejuvenated in line with the organisation-wide governance revamp. The move will benefit all participants, says Grants Specialist, Mando Mahlangu.

'We changed the grant deadline from 15 February 2019 to 15 October 2018 to allow employers to collate their data earlier and enable us to assess applications and pay out most of the levies to companies ahead of the financial year-end,' she explains.

The change is in line with Fasset's bid to improve its process and procedure systems, while complying fully and timeously with legislative requirements. 'Some uncertainty accompanies any change,' says Mando, 'but we are assisting employers with the change of date, to the point where we will allow certain applications to be submitted even if a supporting document is outstanding. We have also introduced a query process.'

The levy grant system being well entrenched across the economy, its benefits are widely acknowledged. But the run-up to a submission deadline is a perfect opportunity to revisit the advantages, starting with a good-quality education.

'Education is a way out of deprivation and poverty, but access to education remains a key factor inhibiting transformation of the Fasset sector,' she says. 'Our grants are tailored to support transformation, promoting the development of African Black learners, Coloured candidates in Northern Cape and Western Cape and people with disabilities.'

Each grant is finely focused, she continues, addressing a real need in the marketplace.

  • The NSFAS Learner Repayment Grant assists learners to become financially independent by alleviating the burden of repayment of NSFAS loans once a programme has been completed.
  • The Bursary Grant covers the essential costs of education to enable learners to complete their tertiary qualifications, which increases the flow of new finance and accountancy entrants into employment, develops and grows skills required in the sector and facilitates transformation.
  • The Learner Employment Grant incentivises employers to place learners on a learnership and retain them for the duration of the programme.
  • The Non-PIVOTAL Learner Employment Grant enables employers to provide scarce skill learning opportunities in areas in which Fasset does not have learnerships.
Employers, if you grappling with any of the grant submission requirements, please contact Fasset on info@fasset.org.za for prompt assistance.

Mando Mahlangu
Grants Specialist