CETA - The Construction, Education and Training Authority

Chris Binnington, partner in Binnington, Copeland and Associates, well-known engineering and construction contract consultants in this country, is a regular columnist in Construction World, providing readers insights into issues pertinent to the industry.

Arising out of the promulgation of the Skills Development Act (97 of 1998), together with the South African Qualifications Authority Act (58 of 1995) and Skills Development Levies Act (9 of 1999), the Construction, Education and Training Authority (CETA) was established in terms of Sections 9 and 13 of the Skills Development Act. CETA forms part of the Sectoral Education and Training Authority (“SETA”) and has been established in order to provide an institutional framework for the construction sector to devise and implement national, provincial and workplace strategies in order to develop and improve the skills of the current and future workforce of that sector. In this article Chris Binnington explains some of the objectives of CETA.

Background

CETA was established by the Minister of Labour in terms of the provisions of the Skills Development Act, 1998. CETA is a body representative of employer and employee organisations in the construction sector, other related national stakeholders and government departments. CETA covers the whole of the construction sector as determined by the Minister in terms of Section 9 of the Skills Development Act.

Powers of the CETA

Some of the powers which have been acquired by CETA are to:

  • Impose a code of conduct for CETA and its committee members
  • Request the Minister to adjust the skills development levy as prescribed by the Levies Act or determine another rate and basis for the construction sector if deemed necessary
  • Impose registration, accreditation and other fees where necessary
  • Determine rules for grants and funding of education and training
  • Award study loans and bursaries for further as well as tertiary education and training relevant to the construction sector.

Functions and objectives of CETA

CETA is intended to determine the qualitative and quantitative education and training needs of the construction sector by actively involving all stakeholders who are party to the CETA and the development and maintaining of a sector skills plan with special reference to the needs of informal/emerging enterprises within the framework of the national skills development strategy. It will implement the sector skills plan by:

  • Approving workplace skills plans
  • Establishing learnerships and skills programmes
  • Allocating grants and funding to employers, education and training providers, employees, learners and students
  • Monitoring education and training
  • Approving and monitoring skills programmes
  • Monitoring the demand for and the delivery of education training in the sector
  • Supporting further and higher education and training.

In order to promote learnerships and skills programme it will:

  • Identify workplaces for practical work experience
  • Support the development of learning materials
  • Improve the facilitation of learning as well as register learnership agreements
  • Promote education, training and career opportunities
  • Obtain accreditation from the South African Qualifications Authority and receive and disburse the skills development levies in the sector.

This requires liaison with the National Skills Authority, the recently constituted Construction Industry Development Board C’CIDB”) and related SETAs on:

  • The National skills development policy
  • Its strategy and the CETA’s sector skills plan.

It will also be required to liaise with the employment services of the Department and any education and/or training body established to improve information about employment opportunities between education and training providers and the labour market To assist it in this regard, it will be in a position authorised to conduct research and development as well as to raise donor and other funding. In order to assist the informal/emerging enterprises it will promote the training thereof to enable them to qualify for public and private contracts and to comply with any registration requirements.

Parties to CETA

CETA will touch most parties in the construction industry by virtue of its wide authority. Organised employer bodies such as BIFSA, the Black Construction Council, and SAFCEC together with such specialist contractor bodies; construction material manufacturers and the built environment professional consultants which would include consulting town and regional planners; the Association of South African Quantities Surveyors; professional land surveyors; South African Association of Consulting Engineers and the Institute of Architects will all find themselves subject to the aims and objectives of CETA.

Organised labour in the form of various trade unions; Building Trade Workers; Building Construction and Allied Workers; Construction and Allied Workers Union together with relevant government departments including statutory institutions such as Department of Public Works; Department of Constitutional Development; Department of Housing; Transport Water Affairs and Forestry and the built environment professional bodies; the Engineering Council of South Africa; South African Council for Architects; for Landscape Architects; for Professional Land Surveyors; for Quantity Surveyors and Regional and Town Planners are all embraced within the framework of CETA (for a full list of the current parties to CETA refer to the CETA.

To give effect to the primary objectives of CETA is a huge undertaking and a considerable amount of research will have to be conducted in the various sectors to determine needs, identify priorities and implement the appropriate skills training. However, if the skills cannot be utilised in the various sectors, much of the valuable effort in creating skills in the first place will be lost It will therefore be important for CETA to ensure that, having created the skills, it is able to find a useful home for them in a stable environment

The construction industry has, over the years, been far from stable, largely because it is driven by factors which are outside the control of the industry itself. Levels of government spending have historically been the engine which drives the construction industry, but, more latterly, with the emphasis on upliftment and empowerment of the previously disadvantaged majority of the population, government funds have been diverted away from the traditional areas of infrastructure and development and the private sector has been encouraged, through private funding initiatives, to identify and promote projects which might otherwise have fallen under government

CETA is a bold initiative and it remains to be seen whether it is capable of achieving the deliverables which it has set itself or whether it simply becomes another unwieldy bureaucratic structure without real benefit for the industry as a whole Let us hope that it is the former rather than the latter.

Construction World JUNE 2001