Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) has called for an urgent meeting with the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Blade Nzimande following the announcement that the Construction Education and Training Authority was placed under administration.

“We have thousands of learners placed with building contractors on learnerships, apprenticeships and candidacy programmes and the immediate concern is to ensure that placing the CETA under administration does not result in unintended consequences for these programmes and for skills development in the construction sector,” said MBSA president John Matthews.

The CETA was placed under administration by Nzimande on 29 January this year to facilitate an investigation into allegations of financial mismanagement and maladministration.

Matthews confirmed that MBSA was aware of ongoing challenges at the CETA, which were causing significant delays in late payments of training grants, bursaries and stipends to employers and learners. At just below 10% of the total labour force of the country, the construction industry remains one of the largest employers in the country.

Improved delivery of skills programmes

However, the lack of qualified and experienced workers has been cited as one of the biggest threats facing the industry. To improve delivery of skills programmes in the country, Nzimande made an undertaking to implement a Contract Management System to keep track of the flow of funds, so that financial management becomes more transparent within the department. He also indicated that there would be consequences for individuals who fail to comply.

“As an industry body, maintaining a steady supply of the required building skills for the country is at the core of what we do for our members, and we remain committed to working with the minister to ensure that the CETA is more effective and delivers the skills needs of the industry. We also support any action aimed at entrenching good corporate governance and better performance, but we are concerned that this development may jeopardise current skills programmes and those that are planned for the near future,” said Matthews.

The meeting is meant to provide clarity on the standing of thousands of learners who are in training programmes supported by the CETA.