The Namibia Training Authority (NTA) expects that the number of claim pay-outs for the Employer Training Grant (ETG) for the 2016/17 financial year, as well as for the 2017/18 financial year, will increase significantly during the October to December quarter.
Speaking at the quarterly update on the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Levy, NTA Chief Executive Officer Jerry Beukes said the backlog in ETG payments has been reduced because employers have a better understanding of the claims process. Pay-outs are continuing under all cycles, subject to valid evidence documentation and that there is no outstanding interest and/or penalties. Beukes emphasized that employers can claim a maximum of up to 50% of their VET levy payments for training-related expenses, but that expenses exceeding the 50% threshold are not considered.
Cumulatively, claims submitted for the ETG totalled N$355 million, of which N$127.7 million had been paid out as at 30 September this year.
Beukes said the significant reduction in the number of employers that registered with the NTA between 1 July and 30 September is encouraging, given the economic downturn. A total of 33 new employers registered in the second quarter compared to 144 registrations in the first quarter from 1 April to 30 June. In the first quarter, 33 employers deregistered and although there were no de-registrations during the second quarter, the NTA is evaluating a number of applications for deregistration he said. The number of employers registered with the NTA stood at 2,849 at the end of September this year.
The process of appointing compliance inspectors with the assistance of the Public Service Commission Secretariat & Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation (MHETI) has started. The recruitment process has been finalised and recommendations have been forwarded to the MHETI for consideration and approval. The inspectors would, amongst others, perform site and verification visits.
KEY PRIORITY GRANTS
With regard to Key Priority Grants (KPG), Beukes said the NTA plans to commit N$1.52 billion over the next four years, based on current annual VET levy collection figures. These grants, which account for 35% of the VET levies collected, are made available for training in key occupational sectors that are in high demand. An amount of N$957,040,524 has been earmarked for programme expansion and capacity building support while a further N$564,913,750 will go to physical infrastructure support.
Beukes said N$340,9 million had been disbursed for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Transformation and Skills Development as at the end of September 2018. He went on to highlight several strategic initiatives supported by the ten Industry Skills Committees:
- The implementation of Sector Development Plan 1.
- Trainee funding for Occupations in Higher Demand (OIHD).
- The development of qualifications in several occupations not previously catered for and at higher levels for some existing trades/occupations.
- Capacity-building for the implementation of new programmes and to train at higher levels, as most programmes are currently offered at Level Three and there is a need to provide Level Five programmes for technicians.
- The upskilling of trainers, assessors and moderators.
- Entrepreneurship development and apprenticeship pilot programmes.
- Support for the expansion of vocational training centres (VCTs) and footprints in all 14 regions as the NTA currently does not have VTCs in the Kavango West, Kunene, Karas and Hardap regions.
Total payments for KPG amounted to N$330 million since the introduction in the VET levy, Beukes said.
The largest allocation was in respect of the implementation of Skills Development Plan 1 (SDP1) which was allocated over N$150 million.
Beukes disclosed that almost 5,000 applications were received for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) – the recognition of learning acquired outside of the formal education and training system in Namibia. Nearly 57% of the close to 1,600 applicants that had been assessed to date was declared competent. He emphasized that training is provided to applicants who are not found competent with the first assessment.
Turning to the Administrative Grant, Beukes said a total of N$134,381,373 had been used by the NTA to date which is substantially less than the 15% of the VET levy which is set aside for the authority’s administration.
Beukes said the definition of training, determining the cut-off period for the submission of evidence for EGT claims and the submission of monthly payroll declarations, penalties and interest are among the regulatory challenges the NTA is faced with.
Outstanding penalties and interest, as well as outstanding, wrong and unclear evidence submitted by employers, the requirements for the submission of claims and the evaluation of claims are amongst the authority’s operational challenges. Another operational challenge is that the NTA does not have a database of eligible employers whose payroll exceeds N$1 million per annum, but are not registered with the NTA.