Following the decision by Government in 1998 to establish Sector Education and Training Authorities to replace Industry Training Boards, the Forest Industries Education and Training Authority (FIETA) was created in 2000 by the Department of Labour along with 24 other SETAs. During the period 1998 to 2000, the Industries covered by the FIETA, namely the Forestry, Pulp and Paper, Wood Products and Furniture sub-sectors, established a working group to put in place the necessary organisational structure, budget and infrastructure needed by the FIETA before its official launch. FSA played a pivotal role during this period through its representative, Roger Godsmark. In 2010 the Department of Higher Education and Training (who had by then taken over the administration of SETAs from DoL) proposed a realignment of SETA coverage, with the number of SETAs being reduced from 25 to 21. In 2011, as a result of these changes, the entire FIETA was merged with various other sub-sectors from other SETAs to form the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing SETA (FP&M SETA). This SETA covers 13 sub-sectors of the economy, namely the clothing, footwear, forestry, furniture, general goods, leather, packaging, printing, print media, publishing, pulp and paper, textiles and wood products sectors.
Essentially the role of the SETA is to facilitate the education and training (and thus the upskilling) of employees of the above sub-sectors as well as the unemployed and students who have not yet entered the Industry. All these interventions are in line with the objectives of the National Skills Development Plan. The Forestry Industry benefits through programmes such as learnerships, apprenticeships, Pivotal Projects, Bursaries, support for Higher Education Institutions offering forestry education and through the payment of mandatory and discretionary grants. The Industry, through its rural location and ability to create jobs also benefits through the opportunity to leverage funding through the SETA. In recent years, the Forestry Industry has been very successful in accessing SETA funding and for every R1 that Industry spent on its skills development levies, it received R2 back from the SETA. The term of the SETAs Board of Control is 5 years. The new term of the FP&M SETA Board commenced on 1 April 2020.
In terms of section 11 (2) (a)-(b) of the Skills Development Act (Act 26 of 2011) the Minister must appoint 14 persons as members of the Accounting Authority (Board) of the SETA. The Accounting Authority must be constituted by six persons representing organised labour, six persons from organised employers and two additional persons who must be nominated by: – a) a Government Department that has an interest in the relevant sector; b) any interested professional body in one of the sub-sectors; c) any bargaining council with jurisdiction in the sector in question; or d) any organisation in a community that has an identifiable interest in skills development in the sector in question. Nominations to the Board are followed by a screening process of all those nominated. As only 5 existing members of the Board could be retained in the new Board, FSA nominated Norman Dlamini (FSA’s Business Development Director) and Francois Oberholzer (FSA’s Operations Manager). This was done as Norman Dlamini was an existing Board member and as such, there was a good chance that he would not be re-appointed to the new Board.
In April of this year, the Minister of Higher Education and Training approved the nomination of Francois Oberholzer as the representative for the Forestry, Wood Products, Pulp and Paper and furniture sub-sectors of the FP&M SETA. He takes over from Norman Dlamini, who served as a Board member from 2018 to 2020. Francois has also been appointed to the Audit and Risk Committee, replacing Roger Godsmark who had served on this Committee since 2000, following his retirement as FSA’s Operations Director.
The Industry would like to thank Norman for the service he rendered at the SETA, not only on behalf of the Forestry Sector, but the entire organised business of the 13 sub-sectors during his term on the Board. The Industry would also like to extend their gratitude to Roger Godsmark, who not only played a key role in establishing the FIETA but served on the FIETA, and later on the FM&M SETA Board and Audit and Risk Committee from its inception until 2018.