New board calls for safeguard of skills funds

dr-ivor-blumenthal-ceo-of-arkkonsultThe newly-established Professional Board for the Master Built Environment (PBMBE) intends playing a major role in boosting the skills level and professional status of 41 industries that have pledged allegiance to the PBMBE’s goals, says Dr Ivor Blumenthal, CEO of ArkKonsult, the consultancy spearheading the PBMBE’s proposed operations in collaboration with Master Builders Association (MBA) North.

Dr Blumenthal, speaking at the annual general meeting of the SA Paint Manufacturing Association (SAPMA) in Pretoria, said top of the PBMBE objectives is improving the access by employers and employer associations in the Master Built sector to millions or rands of skills levy funds and National Skills Funds being paid by industry to the government annually, and administered by the Department of Higher Education and Training.

He said that the Department of Higher Education and Training had re-routed funds intended for skills training to solve governmental crises such as the R2.3 billion ‘Fees-Must-Fall’ protest campaign, and the debt of R4.5 billion owing by 71 000 students to universities in SA.

“Government says industry has sanctioned this diversion of its funds, but among the PBMBE fold not a single member has been approached in this regard by the Ministry of Higher Education and Training,” he stated, referring to an interview he had conducted with a spokesperson for the Ministry of Higher Education and Training, where it was made clear that in the future the Skills Levy would be redirected in-part (60%) to the 50 public Technical Vocational Education & Training (TVET) colleges and the balance to universities. “My concern is that in the spokesperson’s statement there was no mention of private training providers having access to the Skills Levy, and importantly a blatant disregard for existing employees on whose behalf the Skills Levy was actually paid in the first place.”

SAPMA as representative body for the coatings industry is one of the 41 industries (grouped into 10 chambers) supporting the PBMBE initiative. SAPMA is part of the Paint and Applications Chamber of the PBMBE.

Dr Blumenthal urged SAPMA members to become involved in PBMBE activities and seek PBMBE benefits when these become available in the latter half of the year. “You have to become engaged in the PBMBE by supporting every SAPMA initiative. Mandate SAPMA to ensure the best deal for your industry. If you, as members, want to ensure that you can trade freely in future and collectively form a strong alliance to veto matters that have a harmful effect on the coatings sector, such as the increasing dumping on imports – you need to become engaged and vested in SAPOMA and thereby in the PBMBE.

“SAPMA is a fine example of a true guild, and one of only a handful South African associations that have established an exemplary operational base to safeguard members’ interests. It is essential that all SAPMA members become more familiar with, and involved in, its initiatives such as supporting the mission of PBMBE. It’s now or never when it comes to industry showing a unified front for survival in the South African scenario,” he added.

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