Higher education, science and innovation minister Dr Blade Nzimande has applauded AgriSETA for receiving an unqualified audit opinion from the auditor-general of South Africa. The financial statements submitted by chief executive Dr Innocent Sirovha contained “no irregular, no fruitless, no wasteful, [and] no unauthorised expenditure”.
Equally important, said Nzimande while addressing the SETA’s annual general meeting, was that AgriSETA achieved 91% of its annual performance targets – a dramatic improvement since Sirovha was appointed in December 2020.
Congratulating Sirovha, his management team and the board, the minister added, “There has also been noticeable improvements in the area of compliance with laws and regulations compared to the previous financial years.”
Additionally, AgriSETA has already achieved the skills development interventions Nzimande set to all SETAS in March this year. This included the provision of workplace-based learning opportunities for TVET college graduates and mechanisms to support the department’s district development model strategies.
Nzimande furthermore highlighted AgriSETA’s role in government’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan following a wave of civil unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in July this year. In this plan, the strengthening of agriculture and food security was listed as one of seven priority interventions.
“In the first quarter of 2020, the sector had about 865 000 workforce, and now in the second quarter of 2022, it has a workforce of about 874 000,” said Nzimande.
“I am happy that AgriSETA in the year under review has shown its commitment to ensure that the agricultural sector creates sustainable employment opportunities, and that the sector continues to recover from the Covid-19 economic disruption.”
Nzimande challenges AgriSETA
The minister did, however, challenge AgriSETA to focus its attention on agribusiness and the development of agro-processing skills – “not for employability purposes only but for agricultural entrepreneurship”.
Nzimande said he also instructed the National Skills Fund to prioritise agricultural skills development amid increasing rates of unemployment. “I would therefore urge AgriSETA to directly engage with the [fund] in order to maximise resources available for the provision of skills in agriculture.”
In his address, the minister also confirmed that government was in the final stages of consulting with provincial authorities to migrate the country’s agricultural colleges to the department of higher education and training. This, after a cabinet decision about the matter.
“AgriSETA must also see this as an opportunity of better aligning agricultural training and qualifications, and as a huge opportunity for skills development for the entire agricultural skills pipeline,” added Nzimande.
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