Workplace skills planning, especially for much-needed ICT skills, is filled with intricacies and acronyms that can make anyone’s head spin. However, if done correctly, the social, financial and cultural benefits of proper planning when diversifying and fortifying your workforce are undeniable.

Businesses can reduce their ICT learnership and skills development costs by up to 63% by ensuring a professional workplace skills plan and training report is submitted accurately and on time – before 30 April 2022 – to The Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA).

An ICT skills plan and training report, when done right, also creates opportunities for the introduction of your Employment Equity (EE) plan. These can be substantially beneficial for your company as it means that you can increase your Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) score. Ultimately, upskilling resilient, creative and adaptive ICT individuals with the potential to be key members in your workforce is essential to surviving and thriving in the modern business environment.

Prudence Mabitsela, founder and MD of Dynamic DNA, shares her top insights into how to prepare and submit a workplace skills plan and Annual Training Report to the MICT SETA.

Perform a skills audit

There is a popular saying by Peter Drucker that says “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

The first step in the workplace planning process is to gather in-depth information via a detailed analysis of each employee to identify the skills gap in your workforce based on solid metrics.

Apart from gaining an extensive understanding of the roles in your company, this process naturally highlights which employees may not be optimally equipped for roles they are already in. By discovering these skills gaps you can make your budget go further by providing targeted training on these gaps that can be carried out swiftly to ensure your calibre of employees matches your projections and business plan.

Pay attention to the protocol

One of the most common challenges when it comes to WSP submissions is that the information gathered is not-relevant due to misunderstanding the submission process. Rendering it valueless in terms of ROI. For your submission to be valid, you must produce a Workplace Skills Plan (WSP) that is complete with Annual Training Reports (ATR), Pivotal Training Plans (PTP) and Pivotal Training Reports (PTR).

The purpose of submitting the company’s complete and accurate WSP and ATR is to enable the SETA to determine what amount the company should be “refunded” or paid back. If you fail to submit your reports, your company’s claim back may very well be suspended.

BBBEE levels are complex and without following the correct process to the letter it can be extremely tiring to improve your score. To begin the process, you need to be able to prove you as an employer are complying by having equitable representation on every level of your company, that reasonable steps are taken to upskill employees to move up, that steps were taken to implement the approved EE Plan, that there has been tangible progress made in eliminating barriers, and that reasonable steps are taken to appoint, promote and retain designated employees.

Collect evidence carefully

To earn points, all formal training requires proof such as attendance registers, certificates and invoices to back up the submission which the MICT SETA then needs to verify. It is extremely important to ensure that the data collected and the evidence provided is organised and complete, or your claims can be rejected and time wasted.

Submission of your Workplace Skills Plan and Annual Training Report is a strict requirement to enable your company to score points on a BBBEE scorecard and failure to comply will ultimately impact your BBBEE status. That is why all WSP submissions must include an EE plan of between 3-5 years. A well-drafted WSP not only helps a company to identify skills that are lacking in their workforce but also ensures that optimal funding is received from the SETA.

Selecting the right talent

WSP helps a company to identify skills that are lacking in their workforce. By addressing these training shortfalls internally they contribute to the professional development of their employees while investing today in the company’s future skills needs. Externally having a solid WSP helps inform HR on where you may need new employees to grow your company.

When upskilling individuals, there is always a risk that you may invest in someone who is perfect on paper and simply not the right personality. By following the correct planning protocol, you can improve employee retention. This is essential in businesses experiencing fast-paced scaling and expansion.

If you choose to train via learnerships not only, are you making a long term investment in youth and employees that have more years to grow with your company, but you also get additional points for the completion of youth training and absorption into your company. Not to mention giving back to the community and investing in the future of South Africa as a whole.

Make use of an external EE expert

Another challenge companies face is the time burden of research to find out if they are training the right person on the right skills for the ROI they are seeking. Investing in the wrong type of training can actively minimise your ROI. This is why we recommend hiring an ICT specialist trained in implementing affirmative action measures. They will be able to ensure equitable representation in all occupational levels of your workforce and advise on WSP and ATR submissions.

To properly understand the depth of return possible in your company, we recommend turning to an external and experienced Employment Equity (EE) expert. They are equipped to provide you with insight on what skills are worth investing in and assist you to invest in the correct employees to earn the maximum amount of points for your investment. They are also trained to operate along the correct race and gender lines to ensure equal opportunities and fair treatment of all employees through the elimination of unfair discrimination.

When compiling and submitting a WSP you need to ensure that all pivotal training reports required for submission are within the financial year of the company to receive your points. There is also a difference between actual training – that is training that has already taken place – and planned training – that is training that is yet to take place – both of which should be included.

To bridge the wider societal digital divide, skills development and training need to be seen as a strategic priority of all companies, SME or otherwise, looking to scale. Employee retention, reducing costs, maximizing efficiencies and profit, anticipating challenges, avoiding disruptions, identifying critical roles, fill any shortage of talent to fill those roles are some of only a few benefits of performing this critical task. However, compiling all the necessary documents to go through the process smoothly can be time-consuming and tiring for a company. Luckily, there are experienced, passionate experts who are happy to assist you to improve and grow