by Lydia Bundred


More than Skills Development

The Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA) was established in the year 2000. Their focus is on metal and engineering, auto manufacturing, motor retail and component manufacturing, tyre manufacturing, and plastics industries. In total merSETA is comprised of approximately 44 000 companies, with a workforce of about 600 000. At the helm of it all is Dr Raymond Patel, who has been the CEO since 2006.


Dr Raymond has to his record 10 unqualified audit reports, top 10 rating in CRF’s Best Employer survey for 2009/10 and more than 24 000 learnerships and apprenticeships in 2010/11. SETAs play a crucial role in a country’s skill development and job creation. Dr Raymond speaks economy and shares his words of advice.

The Economy
In order to effectively contribute to and grow our economy, in addition to skills and jobs, South


Africa must ensure that a manufacturing strategy is in place, Raymond further elaborates. “Manufacturing is the core of any country’s economic growth. The European economy is crumbling because the continent decided to place more emphasis on services and transferred its manufacturing capacity to China and India. Twenty years later, China and India have shown exponential growth, directly as a result of increasing its manufacturing output. For South Africa to become a competitive player among the BRICS group we need to double our manufacturing capacity. This is not an unattainable objective. Government recognises this and has formulated a comprehensive manufacturing strategy. It is only through small and medium manufacturing enterprises working in conjunction with larger organisations that South Africa will be able to retain its manufacturing capability. Furthermore, we are one of only a few countries in the world that collect training levies. We need to use them wisely to train people for the future economy. It’s also interesting to note that 80% of countries in the world include South Africans among their workforce. This shows that we have the ability, but we need to make sure we don’t lose it,” explains Patel.


Lessons to be Learned
MerSETA has consistently been performing at the top of the pack. Other SETAs can learn much from the achievements of merSETA thus far and Raymond offers them these words; “We cannot afford to move away from forming alliances with state organs of training as well as development partners in the private space. These include Further Education and Training facilities, universities, local and provincial economic councils, national departments and international partners. Partnerships are invaluable to all SETAs because through these we can improve service delivery; by involving more people in training and enhancing the acceptability levels of training. Another essential lesson that can be learned is ensuring we stay focussed on the role of SETAs. I believe it’s important to every now and then reread the Skills Development Act, upon which the establishment of SETAs is based, to remind ourselves of the role of the task at hand.” 



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