Workplace skills planning and the importance of investing in learning

Empower your employees and invest in the success of your organisation.

Today’s challenging business environment is a reminder to organisations that talent management, wherein employees’ skills are appropriately deployed to optimise performance, is a critical function. The world is moving at a fast pace and rapidly changing, and the reality is that organisations rise or fall on the strength of their employees. Organisations need to ensure that their employees are well skilled and equipped to engage the emerging changes.

A workplace skills plan (WSP) is an important tool in assisting organisations to address their learning and development needs. The WSP requires organisations to identify their skills priorities in line with the business strategy, identify the subsequent skills gaps that exist within their workforce through a training needs analysis; and develop or search for the best learning solutions for their employees’ career ambitions. Every organisation is required to develop a workplace skills plan annually for submission to their relevant SETA. This enables organisations to be held accountable for the implementation of skills development in their relevant sector and industry.

WSP provides organisations with an understanding of the skills that exist within the organisation, the current and future skills needed and the investment in training required for the year ahead. With a WSP in place, organisations benefit from a better-skilled workforce and demonstrate their commitment to comply with current B-BBEE codes and gain a competitive edge by being recognised as an employer of choice. Organisations are fully able to consider both current and future needs by identifying gaps through a skills audit, integrating needs in their performance managements systems, implement succession planning initiatives and new processes/technological changes. With a planned and structured approach to learning, organisations have the advantage to benefit from numerous incentives and a better skilled (and more productive) workforce.

Implementation of a WSP not only enables employees to acquire portable skills by obtaining recognised qualifications, but also allows organisations to play an active role in addressing the skills shortage in South Africa Organisations should not only address current skills needs but should also consider critical and
scarce skills that are related to an organisation’s short and long term strategic objectives, and it should also be aligned with other critical human resource functions and practices, such as performance management and succession planning.

Workplace skills plans are required by, and submitted to, relevant industry SETAs to address the short supply of skilled staff in South Africa.

Through the submission of WSPs, SETAs are able to compile meaningful Sector Skills plans to prioritise their skills development efforts in their relevant sector. Organisations are legally required to pay a skills development levy and submit a WSP on an annual basis. If compliant, this allows organisations to qualify for mandatory and discretionary grants from their SETA, which enables organisations to gain additional funding for their planned learning interventions.

Simply submitting a WSP isn’t enough for the implementation of a WSP. It is important to secure support and commitment from both management and the employees within the organisation. Posttraining support initiatives should be identified and implemented to ensure the sustained application of learning back in the workplace context.

It is important to use a credible training provider to execute the organisation’s WSP objectives. Not only do organisations establish a good rapport with their respective SETAs when they use recognised training providers with recognised standards, but it also enables organisations to use discretionary funding for their planned learning interventions.

Planning for 2020 is in full swing and taking your business strategy into consideration, it is important to determine which skills you already have in your organisation, which skills you want to develop and which skills you still need in order to optimally deliver on your business mandate.

This requires a strategic partnership that not only provides you with the necessary know-how, but also the appropriate tools to craft a customised WSP that meets your organisational goals.

Elanie Bell is the Stakeholder Relations Manager at Enterprises at University of Pretoria,

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