Numsa held a national skills training workshop on February 20-21 this year at Vincent Mabuyakhulu conference centre.
Among other things, the purpose of this meeting was to interrogate the main agreements in relation to skills training – what was demanded in relation to what was achieved.
The workshop also looked at the possible skills training demands that Numsa can package in preparation for the national policy workshop and in support of collective bargaining, given the current developments and the Seta landscape which encompasses National Skills Development Strategy 111, the National Skills Accord and Seta grant regulation
Looking at all the main agreements, except auto and to a certain extent tyre, nothing much has been achieved in terms of training for a number of reasons.
In the motor industry, for example, the agreement is silent on training, while in the metal and engineering industries, most training happens outside the main agreement. In Eskom, training is not covered at all.
Given this situation, and the fact that Numsa members remain at the bottom of the ladder, with no upward mobility, it is important that we look at training differently. We also talk about transformation as an organisation, but that cannot happen on its own.
We must force it to happen. And it can only happen through skills development.
For Numsa members to occupy strategic positions and take over the means of production, they must apply for training and become competent and qualified for those jobs. It critical that skills development becomes part of a living wage campaign that we can take to the streets, if need be.
The meeting proposed that we use the policies mentioned above to force transformation in the industry and the training of Numsa members and the working class in general.
The strategy for the Motor sector, given the nature of the sector in terms of size, is:
• to cluster companies in a local and assist in setting up a training committee; to develop capacity-building programme for members in these companies so that they can understand skills development implementation processes;
• to have an SDF to service the company
• to partner with workers’ colleges and FET Colleges to offer the workers training after hours and over the weekend. The Youth Forum proposed to pilot the programme.
In terms of collective bargaining, we must:
• take advantage of the economic policies to better the conditions of our members;
• make sure we take advantage of apprenticeships, learnerships, skills programmes and internships to move our members and our communities upwards. This must happen during working hours;
• use Recognition Prior Learning to ensure artisan aids are given recognition for skills they acquired over a period of years;
• make sure adult education and training happen during working hours to help those who cannot and write to be able to move up the ladder as well;
• make sure skills training issues are not deferred to other processes, as they tend to get lost along the way;
• make sure that training is included in substantive matters, because it contributes to higher earnings and improved opportunities.
It is only through skills training that we can achieve transformation and own the means of production. It is only through skills development that we can change the material conditions of our members.
Additional reporting by Malebo Mogopodi, Numsa national skills training coordinator.