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Employment Equity Act, 1998 (Act No. 55 of 1998)

Code of Good Practice

Integration of Employment Equity into Human Resource Policies and Practices

Part B : During Employment

15. Skills Development


15.1        SCOPE


15.1.1 The Skills Development Act and the Skills Development Levies Act provide reinforcing and supporting tools for developing employees in line with employer business objectives. This contributes to a critical pool of candidates from designated groups from which employers could recruit, thus facilitating accomplishment of Employment Equity Act objectives.


15.1.2 This section describes the areas that impact on an employer's ability to develop employees from designated groups, which includes: effectively identifying training needs and matching these with the needs of the employer; providing effective mentoring and coaching; providing structured on-the-job training; considering accelerated development for employees with potential; providing meaningful job roles; implementing individual development plans; providing access to opportunities to act in a higher position; providing shadowing16 opportunities; creating challenging work assignments; and developing and promoting positive role models for designated groups.


15.1.3 The section also deals with the retraining of managers and supervisors to enable them to effectively manage a diverse workforce.




Skills development of employees is a key driver for the achievement of employment equity objectives. The Act positions skills development of designated groups as an affirmative action measure. Development and training are key strategies to enable designated groups to advance and to reach equitable representation in all occupational categories and levels.




15.3.1 Every employer should develop written policies and practices to reflect its commitment to training and development. These policies and practices should refer to the objective of encouraging the training of employees while prioritising designated groups. The policy may incorporate preference in access to training and development opportunities for designated groups, until their representation in all occupational categories and levels has reached critical mass. This policy may then form the basis for the Workplace Skills Plan.


15.3.2 Employers should assist employees to identify and address their skills gaps by formulating appropriate objectives in their personal development plans, agreeing to timeframes and accessing the resources required to meet these objectives.


15.3.3 Employers and employees should also strive to create an organisational culture that encourages and rewards learning for everyone in the workplace. An employer may achieve these objectives through: appropriately structured career breaks; bursary schemes; on the job learning; mentoring and coaching; employee counselling for growth and advancement; and access to literacy and numeracy programmes.


15.3.4 The competency requirements for senior managers, team leaders, line managers, supervisors and professional staff should include specifications related to the development of employees.


15.3.5 Employers should consider conducting leadership and management development programmes to ensure that leaders and managers have the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively manage, develop and empower employees. Every effort should be made to create a work climate that is conducive to the successful integration and retention of employees from designated groups.


15.3.6 Employers should communicate their training and development priorities to all senior and line managers responsible for performance management. An employer should use these requirements to guide the identification of potential individuals in a proactive manner and identify individuals who can be scheduled for training and development.


15.3.7 All formal training offered to employees, whether through in-house training or from an external training provider, should ideally be linked to unit standards or qualifications that are registered on the National Qualifications Framework. This ensures that employees are able to receive nationally recognised credits and certificates for their learning achievements. This may redress past imbalances in formal education opportunities for people from designated groups.


15.3.8 Where employers consider implementing the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) principles to redress historical education and training disadvantages to promote employment equity and validate employee skills and knowledge, this should be based on an employer specific RPL policy.17


15.3.9 Where applicable, employers should consider implementing Learnerships18 to offer occupationally driven, outcomes based learning while creating employment opportunities for previously disadvantaged individuals.


15.3.10 In procuring formal training courses from internal or external providers, employers should take into account the equity profile of the provider.


15.3.11 In procuring formal training courses from external providers, employers should ideally offer preference to suitable Black Economically Empowered companies in support of the development and sustainability of Black Economic Empowerment initiatives.


15.3.12 Employers, particularly those whose workforces include employees who are not functionally literate, should consider offering Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) opportunities.


15.3.13 An employer's employment equity policy or policies should be a standard component of all training and development courses to ensure that employees understand its philosophy in relation to the workplace.


15.3.14 An employer should offer diversity training to all employees.


15.3.15 Staff responsible for selecting employees for training, either as part of their induction or to develop particular skills, should themselves be trained to: recognise potential, particularly from designated group employees; select trainees according to objective criteria or in terms of the Workplace Skills Plan or training and development policy; align training and development access for designated groups to numerical targets and other objectives set in the Employment Equity Plan; and identify and address any barriers or unfair discrimination practices in the allocation of training opportunities.


15.3.16 An employer should monitor training opportunities in order to identify and address any disparities between groups and to ensure that training is done to achieve the employment equity objectives set out in its Employment Equity Plan.


15.3.17 An employer should conduct post training impact evaluations to track the progress of employees to ensure that training employment equity objectives are met.




15.4.1 Implementing employment equity - Employees from designated groups who are provided with effective training and development interventions are likely to perform better. This may contribute towards improved workplace performance and may increase the profile of employees from designated groups.


15.4.2 Performance management - The performance management system should include the measurement of line managers and supervisors in relation to the contribution they make to the skills development of employees.


15.4.3 Promotion - Effective training and development of employees from designated groups may enhance their skills and knowledge and ultimately their chances for career advancement.



16 A person following and observing another in order to gain experience or insight into a job.


17 RPL as defined by South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), is a process whereby people's prior learning can be formally recognized in terms of registered qualifications and unit standards, regardless of where and how the learning was attained. RPL acknowledges that people never stop learning, whether it takes place formally at an educational institution, or whether it happens informally.


18 Learnerships are created in terms of the Skills Development Act, No. 97 of 1998 (Chapter 4, Sections 16 to 19).