12 October 2021 Garden Route Skills Mecca hosts Capacity Building Session for Skills Development Stakeholders

Building Session for Skills Development Stakeholders

For Immediate Release
12 October 2021

On Tuesday, 5 October 2021, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) held a Skills Mecca Capacity Building Session by means of a webinar.  The aim of the event was to bring all service providers (public and private), who are interested in becoming part of the Garden Route Skills Mecca (GRSM) process, together, and to provide them with insights into the programme and build their capacity when applying to become accredited providers in South Africa.

When providing an overview of the progress made so far, Dr Florus Prinsloo, coordinator of the Garden Route Skills Mecca (GRSM), highlighted the following:

  • The GRDM envisages to start building a database of service providers including professional technical specialists that can help the GRSM to move forward with their work.
  • GRDM has initiated a process with the necessary legal colleagues to copyright the GRSM brand, to strengthen and grow the brand to become a global and well-known international brand. “We want the Garden Route to be the first choice when people want to develop skills,” Florus said.
  • The next Skills Summit is scheduled to place in March 2022 – a Skills Summit Working Group will be established within the next few weeks to drive the arrangements for the Summit.
  • Service providers should consider all resolutions taken at the GRSM Summit when developing their proposals as training providers for the GRSM. For this purpose, service providers also need to study the DDM (JDMA) One Plan and the Garden Route District Skills Development Strategy. These documents can be accessed on the Garden Route District Municipality’s website.

After sharing the concept and overview of the Skills Mecca, Dr Florus said:

“Everything that we do at the GRSM is directly linked to the District Development Model, also known as the JDMA in the Western Cape”.

During the webinar, Dr Florus referred to the recent National Skills Development Summit where both the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande and the Minister of Cooperate Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosasana Dlamini-Zuma, were both participating in. He said: “Most of participants at the Summit clearly made reference to skills development as part of the district development model”. Echoing the words of Minister Nzimande, Dr Florus said: “What we need to do is to create a district skills profile, which is necessary for such a district development model”.

To the potential service providers he advised: “Have a look at what are the strategic documents and strategic plans of the organisation that you want to partner and align your proposals to. You would want to align your proposals to the District Development Model, the One Plan of the JDMA and the GRDM Growth and Development Strategy (the two key documents that the GRSM is founded on).

The actual skills Mecca has a short, medium and long term approach. That approach will be implemented over a short period (2023) using a coaching methodology to grow internal capacity. He explained: “The GRSM, as the skills development component of the district development model is a permanent feature of what happens in the district – it’s not just a once-off, it should become a permanent feature that has staff, resources, programmes, and it just continues on and on. This concept is necessary and is now needed in the country so that we can bring skills development, right down to where it is really needed, at grass roots level”.

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When Dr Florus elaborated on the function of the Task Team that is already established to drive the concept, he said: “We’ve got the implementation plans and reports. Those implementation plans and reports are guided by the Task Team”. Adding to this, he explained the function of the team and said: “The Task Team is the first structure that is already established and consist of a group of internal individuals that is led by the GRDM Executive Manager of Corporate Services, Ms Trix Holtzhausen. Representatives from the local municipalities in the Garden Route and at least four external technical experts that also form part of the team”. He added: “The team guides and drives all the work of the GRSM”.

Two important parts of the Task Team include the working groups and managing the external stakeholder based Skills Mecca Forum.

One of the working groups that is already well-established and submitted their first formal item to the District Council for a plan to establish a multipurpose and highly specialised training academy in the Garden Route. The need for community-based training in firefighting is a big focus area, which is a critical need in the district.

The Forum is an external stakeholder forum that is a webinar-based platform and is held every three months. The platform is led and chaired by Councillor Stephen de Vries, who is the Chairperson of the Training and Skills Development Portfolio Committee at GRDM. Dr Florus extended a word of gratitude to Cllr De Vries for his support relating to the GRSM so far. He said: “We hope that the new Chairperson will similarly support the GRSM and the Forum look forward to welcoming the new Chairperson after the elections in November this year”.

The forum already has five programmes/projects with substantial amounts of funding behind it. This is an indication how well in operation the forum is. The aim is, however, to multiply these proposals with the help of the service/training providers and other officials that are welcome to form part of these initiatives. Florus said: “We look forward to growing that progressively here in the Garden Route, because ultimately these efforts will benefit the people of the Garden Route”. A Funding Strategy is also in place and is starting to be utilised progressively.  However, capacity around it still need to be built so that the Strategy gets more and more people get to understand it and use it.  Part of the Strategy is a pre-approved Provider Database.

The transversal scope of work of the Garden Route Skills Mecca (GRSM) requires that the District Municipality establishes partnerships and invites bids for the registration of public, private and state owned companies as service providers on a pre-approved database to offer skills development related programmes and workplace services as required by employers and entrepreneurs within the prioritised economic growth and enabling sectors of the District.

Dr Florus explained: “After conclusion of the supply chain process and once placed on the approved list, such service providers would be expected to provide quotations on selected programmes and/or services as requested by the District Municipality”.  Meaning, “approved service providers would be selected as possible providers for a particular programme or service and then be requested to provide a quotation for the intended programme or service,” he added.

It will be expected from service providers to deliver programmes or services that must be relevant to at least one or more of the Garden Route District Growth and Development Strategy socio economic priorities that may be amended quarterly; These include: occupational based education training development, occupationally based assessment services including recognition of prior learning services; generic work readiness programmes inclusive of Core Skills within the framework determined by the International Labour Organisation; and Professional Technical Expertise Services within the categories of Facilitating, Consulting, Mentoring, Coaching, Research and Data Analytics.

According to Dr Florus, the database plays a significant role to get service providers to help the GRSM to spend the money. He emphasised: “You can sometimes get the cash, but it is almost twice as hard to spend the funds and it need to be spend in a way that is correct and under proper governance”. The provider database, as well as other documents such as the funding strategy etc. will always form part of the agendas directing the Summits and Indabas. These documents will influence the resolutions around the GRSM.

Dr Florus praised the local municipalities in the district for establishing their local structures where economic development and skills development colleagues meet to discuss their program.  So far, these local structures have provided the GRSM with up to four projects that they want assistance on. He said: “This is great if one has this kind of cooperation – we will progress, and this will help us tremendously in our region in terms of skills development”.

The other side of the support system focuses on “customer orientation”. This approach refers to helping particularly employers and learners, as two big customer groups, together with the GRDM and the members of Council. The GRSM work closely with the GRDM Digital Transformation Strategy Group to build an employer database which will be a multi-faceted employer database.

This database is formally part of the Digital Strategy with the employer data as records that will be well-controlled. The database plays a significant role as it can build skills profiles and skills needs of employers.  “This part is linked back to the district development model, because if the GRSM does not have an effective employee database like that, regarding what employers in the area really need and be able to deliver on those skills, then the district development model will not work,” Dr Florus said.

To ensure the effective marketing of these programs and projects of the GRSM, a Digital Marketing Strategy together with the website that is being developed, as well as a comprehensive e-marketing strategy, is in the process to be implemented. The website is envisaged to go live in due course. Through this website, all the necessary information that it shared at the Forum, can be accessed.

Recruitment of seventeen (17) young people

The GRSM is in the process of securing funding to recruit seventeen (17) unemployed people as GRSM Technicians. Technicians will be trained to run the various elements of the GRSM. Two technicians will be placed at each local municipality in the district and three at the GRDM.  Dr Florus highlighted that, “as a team, we will work with them over three years to develop the skills and assist them to become professionally registered skills development technicians and in that way, we hope to make them highly employable over the three years”.

Ms Gillian Tobin from the Local Government SETA furthermore made a presentation on the requirements for Skills Development Providers in the Local Government Sector. The requirements for Skills Development Providers in the Occupational Qualifications Sub Framework were also presented by Mr Emmanuel Mbuwe from the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations.

In closing, Ms Holtzhausen encouraged participants to form part of all future engagements of the Garden Route Skills Mecca.