Leading up to the Skills Development Summit in August, we talk to Felleng Yende, the Fibre, Processing & Manufacturing (FP&M) SETA’s award-winning CEO—one year after the SETA first sponsored the prestigious event in Pretoria


Achiever magazine’s Skills Development Summit is one of the foremost skills events staged in South Africa that showcases the remarkable strides that have been made by learning organisations in advancing the national skills development strategy. It is thus a no brainer that the Fibre, Processing & Manufacturing (FP&M) SETA is sponsoring this occurrence for the second year running.

During the past five years, the SETA has adopted a pipeline approach to skills development where learners are supported from school level, through career guidance and awareness programmes, to employment in the workplace. Notwithstanding numerous challenges, the SETA successfully continues to deliver on its mandate.

FP&M SETA’s phemomenal CEO, Felleng Yende, says the SETA’s commitment to effective and efficient service delivery is proven by the significant strides it made since its inception in 2011.

“We have ensured that skills development funding is channelled specifically to address the skills development needs of those who were previously marginalised.”

“As the main objective of the annual Skills Development Summit is to raise awareness for quality education and training standards, as well as to promote ongoing professional development within the FP&M SETA’s organisations, this event is seen as one of our flagship projects. The FP&M SETA focuses on the continued and critical need for skills development in South Africa, whilst simultaneously tapping into the expertise of stakeholders. The ongoing encouragement of creating new ideas that accelerate skills development through novel and innovative approaches, is always promoted,” Yende told Achiever magazine.

The Tshepo 500 000 Project, is another unique initiative that the FP&M SETA has invested in over the past year. This agreement between the SETA, the Office of the Premier of Gauteng, as well as the private sector is an undertaking between all parties to develop young entrepreneurs and create 500 000 jobs between 2015 and 2019.

The FP&M SETA has provided funding for an initial 180 learners to enter into furniture and garment making learnerships, as well as skills development. This will enable the individuals to qualify for placement in the furniture and clothing manufacturing sectors. The project also includes the placement of 70 work integrated learning candidates in companies in the greater Gauteng region such as Fair Price Furnishers, Nu Metro (Media Division) and Autopage (Media Division).

Two organisations, namely Skills to Furnish International and Ditebogo Consultancy, were appointed to provide learnership training to individuals, which commenced in March 2016 in the Johannesburg Central Business District. This training includes a knowledge component, practical training and work placement.

At the beginning of 2016, FP&M SETA entered into a partnership with Independent Newspapers and SACTWU (Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union) in the ‘Racism Stops with Me’ campaign. “We applaud the efforts of Independent Newspapers, Media SA and SACTWU to address racism, and acknowledge the invaluable role that skills development plays in raising awareness amongst all South African citizens on the horrendous effects of racism on individuals and societies,” comments Yende, looking back at the past year since the SETA first became the main event sponsor of the summit.

“Nation building and national unity must be integrated into the skills development mandate of the 13 sub sectors in the Fibre, Processing and Manufacturing sectors. We undertake to engage with our industry partners on the implementation of skills development initiatives aimed at capacitating our citizens, including the youth, on issues of transformation and cultural diversity.”

‘Racism Stops with Me’ will continue during 2016, and will see 100 young journalism graduates, trained through an internship programme that will equip them with the skills required to produce and manage multimedia content on the topic of race and racism in South Africa. These interns will be placed across Independent Newspaper’s portfolios in KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and Gauteng.

The innovative project will have national impact and will contribute to the dispersal of information that will raise the profile of the campaign primarily through the ‘Racism stops with me’ website. The FP&M SETA, in support of this campaign, undertakes to stop racism in the entire sector including factories and offices, and is committed to facilitating skills development initiatives that will encourage transformation, promote equity and nurture tolerance.

Another impactful project that the FP&M SETA has been involved with over the past year is the International Leadership Development Programme (ILDP). The notion of transformation and the capacitation of young leaders with the potential to enter the top echelons of business leaders in the sector, were motivating factors for Yende when she conceptualisation the ILDP programme.

Regenesys Management (Pty) Ltd, a leading global business school in South Africa, was selected to design an appropriate curriculum, develop and implement learning modules, and project manage the programme on behalf of the FP&M SETA. The extensive 10-month programme was aimed at developing leaders who could make a difference in the local industry and the specific sectors they came from.

With this in mind, 26 candidates were chosen to embark on this educational journey which required delegates to travel to the USA to spend a week at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), studying cutting edge ideas and innovations in the manufacturing sphere. The programme also included the delivery of learning modules in South Africa, by Regenesys, to meet the technical knowledge requirements of the delegates and to prepare them for their week at MIT. From the excellent reviews received from institutions involved in the programme as well as the positive feedback from the participating firms, it is clear that ILDP 2015 produced a significant return on investment that will continue to deliver great dividends in the years to follow. All 26 candidates graduated in March this year with a Management Development programme qualification.

“A proposal from the South African National Editors’ Forum to enhance the knowledge and skills of senior media managers, excited us enormously when we received it,” comments Yende. “We are always on the lookout for projects that tick more than just the pure skills development box, and this was one!”

The South African National Editors’ Forum Media Management Programme, which offers the WITS Media Management Certificate to women in particular, addresses many of the FP&M SETA’s priorities including women empowerment, gender equality and skills development pertaining to the sector’s high level skills needs. The SETA provided the necessary funds towards the implementation of the project.

“Women are often excluded from opportunities to develop their skills and capabilities which prevents them from pursuing their ambitions. By designing a programme specifically for women participants, SANEF, in partnership with Frayintermedia and the media sector, have made high level skills development opportunities available to 17 women, so that they can rise to senior leadership positions in the industry,” says the committed Yende.

For the first time, the FP&M SETA engaged with the Exotic Leather Cluster, which concentrates mainly on the processing of crocodile and ostrich leather, to address the critical and high level skills needed for this niche industry. A collaboration between the FP&M SETA, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Exotic Leather Research Centre of the University of Pretoria, resulted in a partnership with the University of Northampton in England, to offer a one-year post-graduate MSc in leather technology.

The FP&M SETA allocated sponsorships to 10 students to enter the programme. In January 2016, the individuals left for England to study at the University of Northampton. The unique opportunity will see the 10 chosen individuals exposed to world class training and international best practices in tanning technologies. Through creating a pool of highly talented individuals, the sector will become enormously attractive and capable of retaining key people to become young leaders.

The ultimate objective of this project is for the students to become lecturers at local universities and colleges where they can improve research and development capacity, or become employed as technical staff in production, retail and research entities throughout South Africa.

In order to improve research capacity and expertise within the FP&M sector, the FP&M SETA has a multi-faceted research partnership with WITS REAL which continues to thrive with a view to addressing a transformation output of creating a pool of black academic researchers that would be capacitated with the requisite research skills to address this high level skills shortage.

Since its inception in 2011, the FP&M SETA has experienced exceptional growth as an organisation and has managed to cement its reputation in the FP&M sector as a credible partner in skills development. At a national level, the SETA has demonstrated its support of the National Skills Development Strategy III by aligning sector skills priorities with national priorities.

It must noted that the FP&M SETA is making a huge impact with regard to its overall performance.

A performance rating of 89% was achieved during the 2015/16 period. 99.7% of FP&M SETA funded learning programmes are deemed relevant to real scarce skills needs within the industry.

There is no doubt that the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing (FP&M) sector has taken the skills development landscape by storm as it addresses scarce and critical skills, through the ongoing implementation of innovative projects, one of which is the 2016 Skills Development Summit

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