Having surveyed the different layers that have framed the workplace challenges covered in this part, we conclude with a final layer – education. This completes the roadmap we have constructed for an integrated strategy that unlocks social and commercial benefits for employees.
We began this section with the following objectives:
We then looked at how employers could create an environment to help employees meet their most basic human needs. In so doing, we built links between the workplace and broader societal commitments instead of deferring to policymakers’ incentives or penalties to encourage participation.
Finally, we demonstrated how the aggregated picture can be integrated into a company’s shortterm and long-term strategic plan.
By framing the workplace within this broader context, we moved our objectives closer to our well-being vision for the future. We conclude this section by summing up the commercial benefits of getting the linkages between diversity and inclusion, gender equality, and transformation in the workplace right.
When organisations set their strategies, they look at the environment in which they operate and make decisions that will best ensure their success. These decisions often involve contributing to a sustainable business environment that will ultimately affect their own success.
Our approach to establishing an inclusive development framework for the workplace rests on the following assumptions:
Our point of departure is that government policy objectives and directives will not necessarily be expressed in workplace policy. It’s also not clear whether government policy will have the desired outcomes. We therefore have to assess our strategy for integrating various workplace imperatives and programmes with the policy chain of planning objectives we have identified.
What, then, are the essential attributes of integrated planning, and how will the various programmes discussed in this segment?
We suggest that questions of diversity and inclusion, gender representation, culture and socio-economic transformation cannot be resolved without a framework that interprets and implements these policies, and unlocks the enormous value embedded in them. What’s needed is a critical reflection on transformation in the workplace, and clearer guidelines on how to implement policies.
This concluding chapter responds to missing links in the policy chain by using skills development as one example of how integrated programmes can be implemented across transformation scorecards while aligning with corporate strategy.
Our starting point is from the perspective of the people corporate. We assume that corporates require competent people who are properly skilled in order for it to function optimally. Competence and skills are assumed to be determined from qualifications and experience as a base, and assessments as a confirming or selecting indicator. Employers have long used educational qualifications as a signal of general aptitude and reliability.
To qualify for training grants from the Skills Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) the organisation belongs to, it must compile a workplace skills plan. The SETAs manage these grants in line with the requirements of the Skills Development Act (No. 97 of 1998) and Skills Development Levies Act (No. 9 of 1999).
These workplace skills plans feed into the SETA Sector Skills Plan, which is critical to determining where to focus in addressing skills planning issues. The organisation is therefore the starting point of skills planning for the country in all sectors.
Workplace skills plans should be formulated with a view to investing in skills that enable the organisation to achieve its strategic objectives. The process of completing the plan should be a strategic one that includes input from across the business to determine the skills the company needs to achieve its strategic goals. However, it’s often relegated to being little more than a legislative requirement and does not focus on organisational development and future needs – despite training and development playing an important role in the organisation’s ability to achieve its objectives.
As a result, the aggregation of corporate submissions is therefore failing to sustainably change the country’s skills profile, and this will continue if no deliberate and concerted effort is made to overhaul the system.1 We will get true value from these plans only if they are developed for the benefit of the employer and employee.
Skills development spend targets have increased since the new BEE codes were gazetted on 1 October 2013, making it even more difficult for corporates to achieve BEE compliance. However, what we’re finding is that corporates are using their training budgets mainly to get skills development points on the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) scorecard. If they were to align their BEE strategies with their business plans, the BEE outcome would be a consequence of doing business, not a cost.
The learning matrix presented in the skills development pillar of the B-BBEE Act2 looks complex to implement and manage; however, if we invert it (Figure 3.9.1), we begin to see a number of guidelines that make it easier to understand.
We also see how policy can be put into practice, for example:
Individual employee goals have traditionally centred on climbing the corporate ladder – a process in which ‘power, rewards and access to information are tied to the rung each employee occupies’.3
A linear corporate ladder process may no longer fit employee aspirations; therefore, companies should be flexible in allowing their employees to achieve their career goals in a non-traditional manner such as through a corporate lattice process.
The corporate lattice model is suggested as a more suitable a description for the new way of work:
The corporate lattice metaphor signals a shift in mind-set and outlook as we cross the chasm from the Industrial Age to the knowledge economy. It represents the multidirectional, flexible and expansive nature of how successful organizations work today. And it marks an inflection point in the ways careers are built, work is done and participation in organizations is fostered.4
Alexander Forbes Empower and Degreed have partnered on this approach to non-linear career paths to lifelong learning. A skills development tool connects employees to all the resources they use to learn – millions of courses, videos, articles, books, podcasts and experts from thousands of sources, including a corporate’s learning management system. Having a handle on what your employee learning needs are and what business skills are available, while providing your employees with opportunities for continuous daily learning, is critical to strategic success.6
Using a skills development tool like this makes the process easier and frees up time for more strategic analysis.
To further enhance this process, using available tax incentives creates a multiplier effect for the organisation. Skills development ceases to be a ‘grudge cost’ to achieve compliance but is aligned with strategic business actions.
As set out in the Income Tax Act (No. 58 of 1962),7 bursaries are generally employer deductible and potentially tax free to an employee or their relatives.
Bursaries granted by companies can be divided into two groups:
These bursaries enhance the employee value proposition while reducing the tax purse of the employer. This ‘cooperative’ tax to incentivise spending on skills development goes a long way to showing how business and government can meet each other half way.
The Employment Tax Incentive Act (No. 26 of 2013) sets out the conditions for the youth employment incentive.8 This incentive can be claimed as a credit against an employer’s monthly PAYE payment for employees between 18 and 30 who earn no more than R6 000 a month.
Table 3.9.1 shows how this is calculated. This incentive ends on 1 March 2019.
Another integration strategy to consider is merging skills development with enterprise development as a way to meet compliance requirements as well as help small businesses manage costs and get access to resources. One of the disablers for small businesses is insufficient resources to deliver on contracts. When corporates are unable to host a large number of interns, they can deploy interns to small businesses that then take on the host role.
This means that skills development compliance will have a multiplier effect where:
An integrated and collaborative approach to implementing skills development benefits each stakeholder for the greater well-being of society.
We set out this approach in Table 3.9.2.
Even when the government provides a number of tax incentives to drive greater focus and spend on skills development, corporates find the process cumbersome to implement. Perhaps what is required is a better understanding of the intent and role of each of the stakeholders in skills development, and how we can optimise existing national strategies and policies.
We have seen from the example of the skills development scorecard strategy how having the right policy and legislative framework can allow corporates to drive certain programmes that can be integrated for greater effect. Figure 3.9.3 shows the benefits to the individual employee and the corporate in adopting this thinking.
Incentives, systems, programmes and strategies exist, but may require a rethink and refocus so that their impact can be maximised, increasing employee engagement and having a positive impact on the corporate financially and socially. This aggregation of programmes and strategies helps us to join the dots. While corporate citizenry has been highlighted as the best place to influence the quest for well-being, this example demonstrates that a multistakeholder collaboration can take us that much further.
1 Adcorp (2015).
2 South Africa. 2013. Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Amendment Act (No. 46 of 2013 and Act No. 53 of 2003) (‘B-BBEE Act’).
3, 4, 5: Benko, C, Anderson, M & Vickberg, S. 2011. The corporate lattice. A strategic response to the changing world of work, Deloitte Insights, 1 January 2011 (online).
6 Alexander Forbes website, Empower page (www.alexanderforbes.co.za), 26 July 2018.
7 South Africa. 1962. Income Tax Act (No. 58 of 1962).
8 South Africa. 2013. Employment Tax Incentive Act (No. 26 of 2013), to be read with the Fourth Schedule to the Income Tax Act (No. 58 of 1962).