Friday, September 25, 2020

Companies urged to utilize training fund

The Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Training Authority (BOTA), Abel Modungwa, has implored companies to take advantage of the newly introduced Vocational Training Fund (VTF).
“The vocational training levy regulations have been gazzeted. This means that the VTF is also now getting to a stage where it is now functional,” he said on Thursday.

Through the fund, he said, government would have to generate sufficient funds to support skills training by employers and increase skills base at the work place. The fund will achieve this through contributions made by employers and collected by the Botswana Unified Revenue Service.

“Employers who train their staff would then be able to claim back their training expenses from the fund. You will be able to claim back all your costs, including salaries, during the period of training. You might even find that at times you can even claim a little more than what you invested,” he said.

Modungwa was speaking at the official handing over of a training certificate to Eurostar – one of the few licensed cutting and polishing firms in the country. Eurostar has, therefore, become the first cutting and polishing firm in the country to have its training accredited by BOTA.

“What this means is that as a company, Eurostar can assure their employees or learners that the skills that they get from training at Eurostar are recognisable and will be certificated as a record of learning, according to the requirements of the Vocational Training Act No. 22 of 1998,” he said.
Modungwa applauded the firm for taking its training in the same measure as other quality assurance instruments that are prevalent in the industry. He cautioned other companies and institutions to emulate Eurostar by accrediting their training programs to BOTA.

He reminded the audience that BOTA is mandated to register and accredit all vocational training in the country, be it through work-place training or conventional training institutions. He said there is no institution that is allowed to offer training activities in the country without accrediting their training programmes with the Authority. Anything to the contrary would be a violation of the Vocational Training Act and its associated regulations.
“Anybody who engages in any sort of training should be registered with BOTA – be it a supervisor or an institution. This is because we want trainers who can meaningfully contribute towards the national human resources development,” he explained.

In an effort to promote workplace learning, he said, the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, in conjunction with BOTA, developed structured work-based training regulations and were gazetted in January this year. The regulations require, among others, that any learning or training activity that takes place at the workplace must be structured, assessed and linked to national awards so that it could be recognised and certificated. They also require that learning or training should be planned and agreed with the learner (employee) through the signing of a training agreement and should equally be approved by BOTA. The regulations are currently being launched to employers through a series of workshops.
Eurostar currently employs 463 workers, of which, only 13 are non-citizens. The Managing Director of the firm, Eric Van Pul, said the company is committed towards skills transfer.

“With a team of 13 expatriates from China, we want to bring into the country manufacturing skills that we have acquired in that country in our many years of operation there,” he said. He added that the company would increase its workforce to 650 by the end of the year and then move gradually towards full employment at 1150. In China, the company has a workforce of 6000 people and has been in existence since 1973. Van Pul said of the 12 different stages of cutting and polishing a diamond, they have devised a six months training programme. The programme is such that two months would be devoted to theory and the last four to practical work.

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