By Fiona Wakelin
Nokuthula Selamolela, the business-minded woman at the helm of the Food and Beverages Manufacturing (FoodBev) Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA), has been steadily optimizing the way public resources are used to skill up the food and beverage manufacturing sector. Appointed as FoodBev SETA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in 2018, Selamolela’s future-savvy approach shows managerial depth and, most essentially, financial rigour. She has been the driving force behind two clean audits, and during her tenure service-level targets have increased to 80 percent. This marked tightening up of financial management is no coincidence, given that Selamolela served five successful years as FoodBev SETA Chief Financial Officer (CFO) prior to be being appointed CEO and, furthermore, during much of that time, she doubled up as Acting CEO of the SETA.
In Selamolela’s opinion, the fact that SETAs are government entities is no reason why they cannot efficiently deliver on their mandate. However, running a SETA is no small task. As conduits for public funds SETAs have an enormous responsibility to disburse the funds in ways that not only meet the immediate demand for skills but also anticipate the long-term future of the manufacturing sector. To this effect the SETA leadership must be aware of global and local manufacturing trends and be in ongoing dialogue with industry leaders.
Selamolela is an ex-officio member of the board of the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, which represents more than 12 000 member companies across the consumer goods value chain, including the retail, wholesale and manufacturing sectors. This serves as a platform on which industries along the entire food and beverages value chain can interact with government bodies including the FoodBev SETA.
While the FoodBev SETA serves the manufacturing segment of the food and beverages value chain specifically, Selamolela points out that the SETA is an integral part of the entire food and beverages value chain and that these linkages with the overall food production cycle are inextricable. Awareness of what is happening in all parts of the cycle – from food production to transport to storage to retail is crucial, Selamolela says. This linkage was amply demonstrated in the knock-on effect that recent social disruptions in two provinces had on production cycles across the rest of the country.
Participating in the overall plan to develop skills
As part of the multi-pronged sectoral strategy to contribute to the National Skills Development Plan (NSDP), FoodBev SETA continues to be a critical stakeholder in the Provincial Skills Development Forum (PSDF). Facilitated by the offices of the nine provincial premiers, the PSDFs seek to build a sound skills development strategy throughout the country’s provincial economies.
Selamolela believes that the provincial forums help the organisation build stakeholder’s skills across the board. As a result, FoodBev SETA is able to directly engage with other state entities. One such engagement is with the South African Revenue Service, which assists cooperatives and companies within the food and beverage manufacturing sector with compliance matters.
Meeting immediate demands and enabling future growth
Despite the unprecedented COVID – 19 related difficulties of the past year, Selamolela has kept her eye steadily on the SETA’s long-term objectives:
Last year was unprecedented in the challenges it presented us with and, while this year we can to some extent benefit from hindsight, there are still likely to be unanticipated challenges. Within this climate of uncertainty, the SETA remains steady – focused on its commitment to excellence, to transformation, and to ensuring that South Africa and the Sector has the relevant skills base to compete internationally.
While it was difficult to be proactive at the beginning of the pandemic when companies were faced with sudden shutdowns, the SETA has formed strong strategic relationships that will be critical to reviving the struggling economy. This includes 14 new partnerships that respond to the training needs of women, youth, people with disabilities, people from disadvantaged areas and unemployed people. Some of the partnerships provide bursaries, and a range of learning opportunities to gain experience in the FoodBev sector and acquire the requisite skills. Three of these partnerships support NGOs that are upskilling women in basic entrepreneurial skills.
Many member companies in the food and beverage manufacturing sector saw the Covid-19 related slowdowns in production as an opportune time to increase skills levels, with a resultant leap in applications for training over the past year. The demand was such that some of the SETA’s programmes were not always able to meet the increase in demand, particularly for artisan training. The SETA has plans to increase training in skills that are scarce through giving financial support to employers, higher institutions of learning and offering learning programmes to learners.
When it comes to the growth of small businesses, Selamolela is all too aware of the bureaucratic impediments that hinder the progress of these businesses:
“Over the years I have observed the stumbling blocks that trip them up: the need to get over the hoops of bureaucratic processes as well as compliance issues. It is often very small issues that make small businesses not qualify for various funding opportunities.”
As a result, Selamolela wants the SETA to play a more active role in mentoring small businesses and helping them to thrive and become self-reliant.
Embracing digital transformation
Technology currently serves as an influential driver of change within the food and beverages manufacturing sector as most companies continue their search for new ways to improve their products and services. Selamolela is fully aware that the competitiveness of food and beverage manufacturing enterprises is closely linked to their ability to implement new technologies, saying:
When we foresaw that automation would erase many jobs we found ways to make our training more relevant, thus preparing our learners for inevitable change. As the CEO, I invest a lot of time researching how the fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is likely to impact the sector and what skills will be required by the sector in this changing world of work. Our aim is to help businesses to be alert to the changing environment so they can adapt their workforce planning and development strategies and ensure alignment with future skill requirements.
Selamolela’s background and driving passion
Selamolela is utterly dedicated to opening up opportunities to her fellow South Africans: “My purpose is to help others to improve their lives, and in my role as CEO I do this through the different interventions we provide as a SETA.”
Despite her relative youth, Selamolela has not only the educational background, but also the working experience to lead an organisation as complex as the FoodBev SETA. Equipped with a Master of Commerce degree in Development Finance from the Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, she joined the business world as a trainee accountant at Tongaat Hulett. She then completed her articles at Vodacom, followed by a Senior Finance Manager role at ICASA. She then took on the role of CFO at Swiftnet before joining the FoodBev SETA as CFO in 2013 and then being appointed as CEO in 2018. “In my CEO role I have found that my experience as CFO has been invaluable because it has helped me see the business from all angles,” she says.
Determination and the ability to steadily follow a path are traits that have no doubt helped bring Selamolela to the leadership position she now holds. She is keen for others to follow in their own chosen paths, and offers these words of encouragement:
“I was raised from an early age not to allow anyone to block my path or steal my potential. Hence, my advice to the youth and young employees in the food and beverage manufacturing sector is that no circumstance, past or present, should determine who you become in the future. So, in this regard, I essentially hope to inspire the young people I work with to reach their full potential.”
FoodBev SETA priorities for 2021
As CEO, Selamolela has shown her ability to put the organisation on a more businesslike footing. This in turn has enabled FoodBev SETA to respond more effectively to the sector’s broad spectrum of training needs, and to upskill South Africans, including those who are economically vulnerable. So, what lies ahead as we move into the second half of the year?
A key priority of FoodBev SETA is to enhance the transformation of the Food and Beverage Manufacturing Sector by funding innovation and research programmes. The SETA also plans to provide funding for leadership developmental programmes, with a particular focus on women.
“Other priorities are to capacitate young minds by providing them with information on available and future careers in the FoodBev sector. This is done through several commitments made by the SETA to fund grants and projects,” Selamolela says.
Examples of these are the following allocations:
- R163-million is for the strategic imperative/learning programmes, with a total of R101 million aimed at partnerships or special projects.
- A further R51-million is for the apprenticeship programme.
- R3,3-million will be dedicated to research and innovation bursaries. A sum of R3,4 million is for TVET bursaries and another R4-million for small business support.
- The SETA is also supporting students with historical debt by funding several universities to a total of R30-million.
Explaining the funding process
“FoodBev SETA opens a grant funding window, to call on companies/entities to apply for funding for different training interventions within the sector”, she explains. “These may be for employed or unemployed learners. In the case of unemployed learners, the companies would recruit these learners and register them on our systems in order to receive grant funding; or companies may register their own employees for further training.”
Furthermore, FoodBev SETA finances a variety of learning programmes, such as learnerships, internships, skills development programmes, candidacy programmes and artisanal development programmes. The SETA also funds full bursaries to empower the youth through various institutions of higher learning. These initiatives allow for the development of much-needed skills to fill the critical vacancies in the food and beverage manufacturing sector.
Also, FoodBev SETA is taking seriously the issue of closing skills gap within the food and beverage manufacturing sector, this is to ensure that the sector remains highly competitive, takes initiative and is relevant to the national developmental needs of the country as mandated by legislation governing the sector. The process partly seeks to identify the skills requirements for upskilling an employee aligned to current trends needs. It is not sufficient to just equip an artisan with specific skill set, but the artisan is now required to have a broader set of skills which integrates with the rest of the business such as leadership and technical competencies.
The SETA’s determination to address the issue of accessibility to potential stakeholders and beneficiaries has led to embarking in an aggressive communication marketing campaign that will see it holding information driven events in the next few years.
FoodBev Manufacturing SETA Chambers
For the food and beverages manufacturing sector to effectively respond to its mandate, FoodBev SETA has clustered its member companies in line with their sectoral activities.
Member companies are grouped according to the following five subsectors, also referred to as Chambers:
- Production, processing and preservation of meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, oil and fats
- Manufacture of dairy products
- Manufacture of breakfast food
- Manufacture of food preparation products
- Manufacture of beverages
Each chamber has established a chamber committee in terms of the FoodBev Manufacturing SETA Constitution. This chamber committee comprises key industry players such as organised labour organisations and employer organisations and/or associations, which drive the activities of each subsector.
The duties of the Chamber Committee include:
- Providing expert advice and strategic leadership.
- Providing guidance regarding skills development.
- Assisting with the identification of strategic projects.
- Assisting with appropriate recognition of the subsector’s education and training needs.
For more information on the chambers of FoodBev Manufacturing SETA, please visit http://www.foodbev.co.za/about-us/chamber
Explaining the role of a SETA
“A Sector Education & Training Authority is an entity established under the Skills Development Act (RSA, 1998c) whose main purpose is to contribute to the improvement of skills in South Africa through achieving a more favourable balance between demand and supply, and by ensuring that education and training takes place. FoodBev SETA facilitates training through funding a range of learning programmes that will capacitate both employed and unemployed learners with skills that are required in the sector.” – Nokuthula Selamolela, CEO of FoodBev SETA
To have sufficient and appropriate knowledge and skills available in the Food and Beverages Manufacturing Sector.
- To expand the availability and accessibility of knowledge and skills in the sector, including but not limited to, rural areas;
- Establish a credible institutional mechanism that facilitates skills development with greater efficacy; and
- To remain relevant by providing quality learning standards and qualifications
FoodBev SETA subscribes and is committed to:
- Service excellence: take pride in satisfying stakeholder needs.
- Accountability: accept responsibility and deliver on our commitments.
- Integrity: act with integrity in all we do (doing what’s right).
- Respect: deliver on our commitments with the utmost respect towards our stakeholders.
FoodBev SETA is responsible for the Quality Assurance of all FoodBev SETA-registered qualifications and approved Skills Programmes.
Certification is provided once the accredited training provider has completed the Exit Moderation with the related report stating that the learners have been found competent on all the qualification outcomes. Once the FoodBev SETA has received the Exit Moderation Report for either a full qualification or Skills Programme, the process for certification can take up to six (6) weeks to complete depending on the programme and the number of learners that need to be certified.
FoodBev SETA is responsible for the printing of certificates for full qualifications. The training provider is permitted to print skills programme certificate(s) only on receipt of the SETA-issued accredited provider endorsement numbers that must reflect on the certificate(s).
Accredited FoodBev SETA Training Providers
Due to the specific nature of the Accredited Training Provider List, we advise you to contact the FoodBev SETA with your particular queries.
In order to provide an accurate list of service providers that can assist with the necessary training interventions and to assist with your search of Accredited Providers, please provide the following information when enquiring:
- The province where the training provider is required to be based
- The programme details i.e. Skills Programme or Qualification ID
For more information, contact:
Coordinator: Quality Assurance Bigfish Mashau on +27(0) 11 253 7341 or Bigfishm@foodbev.co.za
Manager: Quality Assurance Llewellin van Zyl on +27(0) 11 253 7323 or Llewellinv@foodbev.co.za
FoodBev SETA QCTO Qualifications in Development
The FoodBev SETA is currently developing four (4) additional sectoral QCTO qualifications as listed below and will send out communication to all stakeholders once the qualifications have been successfully registered with the QCTO:
- Dairyman (10 Part Qualifications)
- Process Machine Operator (26 Part Qualifications)
- Wine Maker
- Confectionery Baker
For more information, contact:
Manager: Quality Assurance Llewellin van Zyl on +27(0) 11 253 7323 or Llewellinv@foodbev.co.za
Nokuthula Selamolela’s Top Reads
- 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s all SmallStuff by Richard Carlson.
Maintaining Work/Life Balance
When she’s not assisting others to reach their full potential, Selamolela believes in having some downtime. A “spontaneous traveller”, she enjoys visiting places where she can relax and have quiet time.
“I enjoy art and have my own collection, with some pieces on display in my work space”, she expresses. “Being in the outdoors is also an essential activity for my well being, and I keep myself fit by hiking and running. All these things help me to keep in balance.”
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