Smart companies know that in order to prevail in a globally competitive environment, the development and retention of employee talent is a critical business imperative. Depending on the type of company, its size and the context of its business, it can provide a plethora of training opportunities to employees. These can be undertaken to develop competence in numerous areas of its business, from on-boarding to career development and even professional development.
It is in the interest of a company to ensure that, in providing its service and products to a customer, competence is entrenched, whist concurrently providing and creating value for the customer. A company often needs to provide continuous learning programmes to develop a core of well-trained individuals whose performance will enhance its abilities to perform at a level that is consistent with its growth and profitability objectives. Focused training and development processes with certain key deliverables should be applied to assist any company to attain this objective.
In an ideal world, companies should be committed to lifelong learning and provide an environment and a range of opportunities for staff to maintain and develop professional knowledge, skills and expertise.
Training is a valuable tool, whether it is institution-based or on-the-job learning. The value proposition of further training and skills development impacts all areas and interests of a business, with considerable long-term benefits. Therefore, using the mechanisms made available by the South African Skills Development Act, companies are able to facilitate sustainable training and skills development practices that benefit industry on a national level.
The following basics are key to sustainable skills development within a company:
Step 1: Align Planned Training to the Organisation’s Strategy
A company’s skills strategy should directly address skills shortages that impact the business objectives. By ensuring that the identification of skills gaps throughout the company’s future planning process takes place, one is able to ensure that there is alignment with business objectives and the skills required for performance delivery against those objectives.
Step 2: Changes in Technological Aspects
Many companies are transitioning from older platforms of product and service delivery to more technologically advanced mechanisms of manufacturing, supply and delivery. These planned changes in the organisation’s processes will require various new skills and competences within its workforce. These changes will most definitely necessitate re-skilling and up-skilling on various levels in the company. Rapid change is usually a major cost driver in the business sustainability planning. Therefore, it is important that the right emphasis be placed on these types of training interventions within the budgeting and planning for such training.
Step 3: Skills Audits
The main purpose for conducting a skills audit in an organisation is to identify the skills and knowledge that an organisation requires, as well as the skills and knowledge that an organisation currently has. Skills audits help ensure that training is targeted and addresses a specific need, rather than training employees for training’s sake.
Step 4: Training Needs Analysis
Training needs analysis is a process that a business goes through in order to determine all the training that needs to be completed in a certain period to allow team members to complete their jobs as effectively as possible and to grow and progress. Sometimes staff members may need to undergo additional training in order to ensure on-going compliance with new legislation. Employees may also need to keep up to date with the newest technologies that allow them to do their jobs to the best of their ability, thereby maintaining the company’s competitive edge.
Sources of information that will be assimilated into the training needs analysis may be gathered from the strategic skills needs, the current competence gap analysis, the individual development plans and from succession plans.
Step 5: Develop Your Annual Training Plan
The process of developing the company’s annual should involve consultation with all stakeholders in order to optimize limited resources and timing since these are usually of a one-year duration. A skills committee that comprises employees and management representatives who constitute a consultative forum is necessary.
There is also a compliance requirement that needs to be fulfilled by organisations in submitting the Workplace Skills Plans and preceding year’s reports to the relevant SETA on an annual basis. This is done in order to access grant funding from the SETA for training and development. Another useful resource is a Skills Development Facilitator (SDF), which can be an internal or external resource. An SDF is a specialist in Skills Development for performance optimization. They are also very capable of assisting organisations with the development and sourcing of quality-assured training delivery initiatives to address the company’s requirements.
A company will aim to ensure that there is an active training plan in place covering every 12-month period during the financial year. The company also needs to ensure that there is sufficient funding to cover the planned training expenditure per financial year. This will also require taking into account transformational objectives.
Step 6: Transformational Alignment
Companies should take into account their transformational objectives and take reasonable steps to address these in their Annual Training Plans. In the new codes of practice in terms of the BB-BEE Act, skills development has been made a priority element. In order to achieve the objectives of this element, a sub-minimum score of 40% of the targeted 20 points must be met. If this is not met, the company risks dropping a level rating in its final scoring. The minimum to be achieved is 8 points. In order to achieve this, companies need to focus on aligning skills development needed in the organisation with training initiatives listed on the Learning Programme Matrix for maximum scorecard benefit.
Furthermore, the provision of opportunities to unemployed persons and graduates for experiential training and bursary support will strongly benefit a company’s BB-BEE scoring objectives.
Step 7: Implementation of the Training Plan
Training should be delivered as per the Training Plan and opportunities optimised during productive peaks for the delivery of these training and development initiatives. Accurate records, registers and documentation should be retained for reporting purposes. Initiatives should be evaluated for both the effectiveness of the programmes to address the skills gaps and also for assessing the return on the investments made into these initiatives. Feedback should be provided to stakeholders who were part of the planning decision making. Improvements should be fed back into the next phase of the cycle of training needs analysis for the next period.
Step 8: Succession Planning and Talent Management
Although the planning of training is usually monitored on an annual basis, Succession and Talent Management may be planned and monitored for a slightly longer period of two, three or five years. Succession planning is a talent management process that builds a pool of trained employees who are ready to fill key roles when leaders and other key employees step down. Companies with succession planning programmes in place foster a talent-oriented culture by recruiting skilled workers and top talent.
Step 9: Graduate Development Programmes
A graduate training programme is a way of bridging the gap between academic training and business skills and experience. Graduate training programmes ease candidates into the practical work environment and give them the skills necessary to become part of the larger team. They tend to last either one or two years. These candidates may also rotate between various divisions in a business. As a talent management process, these programmes provide a pool of qualified candidates who can mitigate employee turnover in a company.
Step 10: Tax incentives
Training staff members through learnerships, internships and skills programmes with accredited training companies benefits a company financially in several ways. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) relevant to your industry have structured financial benefits for companies which train their employees through accredited providers. The Income Tax Act provides employers with a tax allowance for the provision of Learnerships and apprenticeships to employees.
There is also an Employee Tax Incentive (ETI). It is an incentive aimed at encouraging employers to hire young work seekers between the ages of 18 and 29 years. It reduces the employer’s cost of hiring young people through a cost-sharing mechanism with government by allowing a company to reduce the amount of Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) they pay while leaving the wage received by the employee unaffected. Employers will be able to claim the incentive for a qualifying 24-month period for all qualifying employees.
If you need help with implementing Skills Development in your organisation, contact the Human Capital and Skills Development Division at SEIFSA today.