Now that your Workplace Skills Plan (WSP) is ready, how do you manage and implement it proactively?

Developing a training schedule or workplace skills plan (WSP) each year to coordinate and direct the implementation of skills development interventions, is therefore of utmost importance for each organisation’s strategic goals when it comes to identifying proper skills needs as well as considering employees’ professional development.

So, why develop a WSP in the first place? Apart from being legally obliged to develop an annual WSP (under the Skills Development Act of 2003 and applicable Amendments of 2008), it provides a planned and structured approach to the type and amount of training for the year ahead based on the skills needs of an organisation. Workplace skills plans can successively provide organisations with an opportunity to discover talents and skills that they did not necessarily know already exist within their staff complement. The ultimate aim, moreover, is to support skills development at sectoral and national levels.

What are the various SETAs’ roles in implementing WSPs? Workplace skills plans are required by, and registered with, all relevant industry SETAs to address the short supply of skilled staff in South Africa. The link between WSPs and Sector Skills Plans (SSPs) provides a holistic understanding of the importance of WSPs within each sector. As a serious obstacle to competitiveness in industry, professional development not only encourages employers to promote skills development through the workplace as an active learning environment, but also increases their investment in continuing education and training.

But why do WSPs sometimes fail? A WSP is only as good as the understanding that informs its development and implementation. A number of concerns need to be considered, processed and shared in workplace skills planning in order to do an effective skills audit. As such, a well-structured point of departure for skills needs in an organisation is essential to compare against the skills that are already available. Depending on the size of an organisation, and skills needs that are identified, a WSP can either be a manageable or very daunting task. Nonetheless, a number of challenges might be experienced during workplace skills planning that occur at an organisational or sector skills planning level in the various SETAs. Poor information management, poorly defined job descriptions and defining/addressing crucial skills needs are just some of the challenges.

How can organisations and sectors then implement effective workplace skills planning? Workplace skills plans should be seen as a strategic priority within organisations and continuously have executive buy-in or support. Plans should not only reflect generic workplace-based skills needs, but also carefully consider critical and scarce skills that are related to key technical and functional areas of organisations’ strategic objectives by following the WSP process and adhering to the Organising Framework for Occupations (OFO) codes. Workplace skills planning should also be aligned with performance management and other human resource management systems, procedures and practices.

How can my organisation benefit from WSP training? 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. While contributing towards succession planning and employment equity, organisations also demonstrate their commitment to comply with current B-BBEE codes and gain a competitive edge by being recognised as an employer of choice.

What employee benefits are there to a WSP? Works skills planning and further training enable employees to obtain nationally recognised qualifications through professional development courses that ultimately lead to invaluable work experience and personal growth. Employees are also given the opportunity to up-skill (or even re-skill) according to their specific career aspirations and/or needs.