Johannesburg - Government's plan to re-train workers whose jobs are under threat is not working in its current format, Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel declared on Thursday.
The training layoff scheme was supposed to offer an alternative to retrenchments.
Under the scheme, the government would pay half a worker's basic pay, up to R6 239 a month, for companies to train affected employees. This would only be for workers earning less than R180 000 a year.
Only about 7 000 workers have so far been involved, most of them through setas and a minority through the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
The scheme was developed very hastily without being formally codified in regulations, Patel explained at the annual indaba of CCMA commissioners.
But many lessons have been learnt in the initial phase and a significantly larger plan is on the way next year.
Patel acknowledged that employers and employees were dissatisfied with the scheme in its current format. The Department of Labour will announce the new plan shortly.
The current budget for this is R2.9bn, R500m of which is supplied by setas and the remainder by the National Skills Fund.
Patel believes that the speed at which this money is spent in 2010 will be an indication of the department's success.
Participation must increase significantly. Patel hopes the recession will turn out to be many factory workers' first experience with a computer.
The CCMA commissioners mediate in large retrenchments where unions and employers have to negotiate on less rigorous measures and alternatives to losing jobs.
According to CCMA director Nerine Kahn, workers do not believe that they will get a new job after the training period, while employers have no confidence in those providing training.
The CCMA is under enormous pressure, says Kahn.
Halfway through its financial year, which ends in March, the CCMA had already received 150 000 cases - more than the budgeted 136 000 for the whole year. These were mostly retrenchments.
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