Extract from:

A guide to the
Development Act


by Simon G Coetzee (Published by Butterworths of Centurion Business Park Milnerton) 2000


|  LABOUR  |  Employment  |  Rights to "Leave"  |

2.2 Purposes of the Act

The Skills Development Act No 97 of 1998 is intended:

"To provide an institutional framework to devise and implement national, sector and workplace strategies to develop and improve the skills of the South African workforce; to integrate those strategies within the National Qualifications Framework contemplated in the South African Qualifications Authority Act, 1995; to provide for learnerships that lead, to recognised occupational qualifications; to provide for the financing of skills development by means of a levy-financing scheme and a National Skills Fund; to provide for and regulate employment services; and to provide for matters connected therewith." 3

The crux of the Act is summarised below: "In this Act, unless the context otherwise indicates -- 'employee' means --
  1. any person, excluding an independent contractor, who works for another person or for the State and who receives, or is entitled to receive, any remuneration; or
  2. any other person who in any manner assists in carrying on or conducting the business of an employer, and "employed" and "employment" have corresponding meanings." 4

3 Long title of Skills Development Act No. 97 of 1998. 4 S 1 of Act 97 of 1998.


The purposes of this Act are.5
  1. to develop the skills of the South African workforce --
    1. to improve the quality of life of workers, their prospects of work and labour mobility;
    2. to improve productivity in the workplace and the competitiveness of employers;
    3. to promote self-employment; and
    4. to improve the delivery of social services;
  2. to increase the levels of investment in education and training in the labour market and to improve the return on that investment;
  3. to encourage employers --
    1. to use the workplace as an active learning environment;
    2. to provide employees with the opportunities to acquire new skills;
    3. to provide opportunities for new entrants to the labour market to gain work experience; and
    4. to employ persons who find it difficult to be employed;
  4. to encourage workers to participate in learnership and other training programmes;
  5. to improve the employment prospects of persons previously disadvantaged by unfair discrimination and to redress those disadvantages through training and education;
  6. to ensure the quality of education and training in and for the workplace;
  7. to assist --
    1. work-seekers to find work;
    2. retrenched workers to re-enter the labour market;
    3. employers to find qualified employees; and
  8. to provide and regulate employment services.
Those purposes are to be achieved by --
  1. establishing an institutional and financial framework comprising --
    1. the National Skills Authority;
    2. the National Skills Fund;
    3. a skills development levy-financing scheme as contemplated in the Skills Development Levies Act;
    4. SETAs; (Sector Education & Training Authorities)
    5. labour centres; and
    6. the Skills Development Planning Unit;
  2. encouraging partnerships between the public and private sectors of the economy to provide education and training in and for the workplace; and
  3. co-operating with the South African Qualifications Authority.

5 S 2 of Act 97 of 1998.


Looking at the above section, the similarities between the proposals of the policy framework of 1995 and the final Act of 1998 cannot be ignored and to a great extent I feel that the Act has achieved most of the objectives of the policy frame work. Further similarities will become evident later on in this work.

2.3 Offences and penalties

"It is an offence to --
  1. obstruct or attempt to influence improperly a person who is performing a function in terms of this Act;
  2. obtain or attempt to obtain any prescribed document by means of fraud, false pretences or by submitting a false or forged prescribed document;
  3. furnish false information in any prescribed document knowing that information to be false; or
  4. provide employment services for gain without being registered in terms of section 24." 6
With regards to penalties, any person convicted of an offence referred to in: section 33 may be sentenced to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year.7

2.4 Establishment of bodies

The Act also establishes or makes provision for the establishment of the following bodies:

2.4.1 The National Skills Authority

The functions of the National Skills Authority are --
  1. "to advise the Minister on --
    1. a national skills development policy;
    2. a national skills development strategy;
    3. guidelines on the implementation of the national skills development strategy;
    4. the allocation of subsidies from the National Skills Fund; and
    5. any regulations to be made;
  2. to liaise with SETAs on --
    1. the national skills development policy; and
    2. the national skills development strategy;
  3. to report to the Minister in the prescribed manner on the progress made in the implementation of the national skills development strategy;
  4. to conduct investigations on any matter arising out of the application of this Act; and
  5. to exercise any other powers and perform any other duties conferred or imposed on the Authority by this Act." 8

6 S 33 of Act 97 of 1998. 7 S 34. 8 S 5.


2.4.2 SETAs

Provision is made for the establishment of Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) for any national economic sector, taking into account:

  1. "the education and training needs of employers and employees that --
    1. use similar materials, processes and technologies;
    2. make similar products; or
    3. render similar services;
  2. the potential of the proposed sector for coherent occupational structures and career pathing;
  3. the scope of any national strategies for economic growth and development;
  4. the organisational structures of the trade unions, employer organisations and government in closely related sectors;
  5. any consensus that there may be between organised labour, organised employers and relevant government departments as to the definition of any sector; and
  6. the financial and organisational ability of the proposed sector to support a SETA." 9

9 S 9(2) of Act 97 of 1998.

 Extracted from:
 A Guide to the Skills Development Act and Levies by S G Coetzee
 Butterworths Durban ISBN 0 409 11109 0
(Dewey 344.6801 COE)