Vryburg Municipality Skills Development
A public and private partnership came together to develop a skills programme that deals with ethics in municipalities, as well as a number of technical and strategic skills required by the municipal financial and supply chain.We visited the Vryburg municipality that takes part in this skills development programme to see how it works.
R72m project to upgrade financial skills at municipalities
Johannesburg, Thursday 13 October 2011 - A unique R72 million public/private partnership, designed to bring about minimum standards of competence for municipal financial staff, was unveiled in Johannesburg today by Dr Blade Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education and Training.
The project involves a host of stakeholders from all sectors, among them the Department of Higher Education and Training, the National Skills Fund, National Treasury, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), the Deloitte Learning Alliance, provincial treasuries and local government.
Dr Nzimande said that the programme “is designed to bring the resources for various stakeholders to bear on this initiative”. He added that given his department’s enthusiasm for the programme, he was committing R72 million in funding from the National Skills Fund. He challenged the beneficiaries of this grant “to become ambassadors and activists for skills development and research”.
Enhanced municipal service delivery, along with cleaner municipal administration, is the ultimate aim – an objective characterised by the Minister as “perhaps ambitious but critically necessary”, given the shortage of thousands of accountants across the country.
The project is currently entering a new phase, with National Treasury adding fresh impetus against the backdrop of a prime focus of providing municipalities with high-level financial management skills.
Chantyl Mulder, SAICA’s senior executive for professional development, transformation and growth, says that the project is now well into its implementation stage.
“The pilot programme has recruited 160 unemployed graduates and deployed them across the nine pilot districts in Gauteng, KZN and the North-West province. The unemployed graduates first completed a two-month workplace readiness training programme, before becoming fully available to the municipalities.”
She advises that employed officials will also be included in the process. “Employed officials have joined the pilot phase for the skills programme – the second segment of the project – for all nine sites.”
Mulder explains that the skills programme deals with ethics in the municipalities, as well as a number of technical and strategic skills required by this level of municipal financial and supply chain official. National Treasury has defined the minimum competencies required by these individuals and these requirements came into effect on 1 January 2011. National Treasury has also, together with technical experts and the Local Government Seta, developed a qualification to help individuals achieve these competencies. It is this Municipal Finance Training programme, that is being used in the project.
Addressing National Treasury’s involvement, she said that SAICA has been liaising with the National Treasury since the inception of the project “to enhance our relationship and synergise our efforts”. The result has been a comprehensive plan to optimise the two organisations’ efforts in the municipalities.
She spells out amendments to the project’s second phase:
In January 2012 the programme will be rolled out nationally and we expect to have over 60% of all municipalities participating.
Through the project, 1 210 learners (710 unemployed graduates including National Treasury interns and 500 municipal officials) will be trained.
We will be building the capacity of emerging and black-owned training providers through the delivery of this project in the provinces.
Currently, learner stipends for unemployed graduates expire after 12 months. During this time they will complete 10 unit standards of the qualification to meet the regulatory minimum standards of competence for supply chain management. Successful employed officials will now be granted an additional six units to also meet the minimum standards of competence for financial management.
Deloitte Learning Alliance’s Madi du Toit says that the project targets the financial manager level, along with other financial management positions.
“Deloitte has a deep knowledge of the municipal environment, having numerous municipalities as our clients over many years. We have noticed over the past 10 or so years a steady decline in availability of financial skills in the municipal sphere. We believe a large scale intervention, such as this project, will pave the way to addressing some of these skills shortages.
“We also believe that the way to address issues of this nature is though public/private partnerships, where centres of excellence like SAICA join hands with private organisations and the public sector to find workable solutions.”
For more information go to https://www.saica.co.za