Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters has urged workers within the transport sector to exploit opportunities for further education saying it was what government had planned.
Peters was speaking at a graduation ceremony for members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) held at the Parktonian Hotel, Braamfontein today. More than 240 SATAWU members received certificates after successfully completing Negotiation Skills and Paralegal courses.
Peters said the Skills Development Act of 1998 was among several legislations promulgated by the African National Congress-led Tripartite Alliance to enhance worker rights and education by providing an institutional framework and strategies to develop and improve workforce skills. The Skills Levy Act of 1999 enabled the imposition of the Skills Development Levy which compelled employers to set aside funds for skills development of their employees.
“So when an employer gives you a scholarship, bursary or an opportunity to study through SASSETA or TETA you should know that it is not a favour, it is part of what is planned by your government – the ANC government,” Peters said.
SATAWU General Secretary Dr Zenzo Mahlangu made an appeal to the graduates to apply what they had learnt in their workplace and communities.
“This must be the beginning of a better life not just for yourself but also those around you. The knowledge you have acquired must translate in the ultimate uplifting of your community and organisation. Only then does education have a meaning,” Mahlangu said.
Addressing the gathering, valedictorian Gilbert Gamla said he had received immense support from the union and his colleagues when he was diagnosed with cancer while studying.
“It was hard. I was in hospital for three months but God is good,” Gamla said.
Another valedictorian, Sevha Shikweni said he drew his inspiration from Mahlangu, who like him, started off as a security guard.
“Look at me now, I am a Paralegal guru,” Shikweni said.
Safety and Security, Sector Education & Training Authority (SASSETA) and Transport Education Training Authority funded the Paralegal and the Negotiation Skills courses respectively.
SASSETA Administrator Jenny Irish-Qhobosheane said they had identified paralegal as a critical skill. She said although the private security sector was the biggest employer within the safety and security industry, the majority of workers are employed at the lowest entry level. The sector was also grappling with transformation and other historical issues. These were some of the reasons they were supportive of SATAWU’s initiatives to improve the level of skills in the sector.
TETA CEO Maphefo Anno-Frempong said SATAWU’s training initiative was delivery actualised. “You see when we fund, we just fund but this to me is performance in action,” she said. Anno-Frempong said she was looking forward to strike-free wage negotiations in the transport sector next year because the graduates had sharpened their negotiation skills.
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