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Plans afoot for ammonia

By Andrew Perks

My how fast time flies. I can’t believe that it has been over a year since I was at the IIAR conference in Los Angeles and what a year it has been – climate change is roaring ahead.

Andrew Perks Andrew Perks is a subject expert in ammonia refrigeration. Since undertaking his apprenticeship in Glasgow in the 1960s he has held positions of contracts engineer, project engineer, refrigeration design engineer, company director for a refrigeration contracting company and eventually owning his own contracting company and low temperature cold store. He is now involved in adding skills to the ammonia industry, is merSETA accredited and has written a variety of unit standards for SAQA that define the levels to be achieved in training in our industry.

One bit of good news on the horizon is the steady ingress of ammonia as a green energy source and the fact that we have plans afoot in South Africa to manufacture and supply green ammonia for export. I will be keeping you up to date on that front as it progresses. However, there are other concerns on the local scene regarding skills training which I would like to comment on as follows.

I don’t know if you are aware, but the end of June 2024 brings about the last date of enrolment for all Seta legacy qualifications and unit standards. During the last few years, different bodies have been assisting service providers to move across to the new QCTO accreditation system for both learnerships and individual skills-based qualifications.

However, the move to QCTO has its challenges, some of which are related to limited QCTO qualification and skills programme options, lack of External Integrated Summative Assessments (EISAs) and accredited assessment centres with lengthy accreditation application turnaround times to name just a few. This has left many willing and able providers between two systems with nowhere to go. With these accreditation system changes taking place, many unit standards are no longer valid and there is nothing out there to replace them.

The imminent last date of June for enrolment leaves many service providers facing the harsh reality of having to close their doors. It also leaves learners and South African skills development in a very difficult position, the knock-on effect on corporate spending and training/skills levels is yet to be felt. The lack of skills in South Africa is reaching chronically poor levels, what we need is a more progressive approach – not more roadblocks and obstacles.

This doesn’t affect most of you directly, but our country is desperately short of skilled staff with adequate training, particularly in technical and engineering fields.

South African Revenue Service (SARS) places an obligatory 1% skills development levy (SDL) fee monthly and now, all of a sudden, all new learnerships are no longer available, and will any special grants be paid out? So, what’s happening to the money we are forced to pay? Suppose you can apply for a rebate, let me know how that works out.

If you too share our concern about what will happen and how to solve this conundrum in the short term, you should study the petition mentioned below. An extension of this June deadline will allow the two systems to catch-up and business to go ahead in the meantime. So, let’s look at what this petition is all about.

Its theme is: ‘Prevent the collapse of Skills Development: extend SETA legacy qualifications and unit standards’.

The appeal is being directed to the minister Blade Nzimande, requesting the appropriate body to extend the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) Legacy (historical) qualifications and unit standards for three years, and to monitor the SETAs in aligning them to occupational qualifications and skills programmes with a streamlined approach. 

The Minister is being requested to monitor all SETAs in their delays. Urgent action is required, to ensure those employed remain employed, those registered as businesses remain open, and learners can continue with educational programmes whereby they will not be disadvantaged. Please support this appeal and petition by completing and signing it. 

It is a complex system, but this is a very quick short form to complete. We thought we’d pass that onto you – please do check it out. Let’s all do our bit to get South Africa back on track. 

Stay safe until next month.

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