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Reskilling programme for retrenched workers completes first run

The final intake of learners for the maiden year of the Road to Reskilling training programme is set to take place later this month in Gqeberha, in the Eastern Cape.

The programme was conceived as a means of reskilling and recapacitating 300 previously retrenched workers in the automotive components manufacturing sector to support their reentry into employment by providing them with priority skills as identified in the sector skills plan.

The training programme is implemented in collaboration with National Association of Automobile and Allied Manufacturers (NAACAM), associate member training providers Siyaya Skills Instituteand Siyanqoba.

Siyaya Skills Institute is part of the Learning Development Group of Companies, which, in turn, is part of infrastructure and people solutions provider NEXTEC – a wholly owned subsidiary of the technology services conglomerate EOH Group.

The induction of the first intake of 81 learners took place on May 17 in Gqeberha, with an additional 36 being enrolled in Gauteng shortly thereafter. The second intake of 102 learners in Gqeberha and 37 in Gauteng completed the programme last month.

The final group of 44 learners will bring the final tally of learners to 300, thereby fulfilling the mandate of the funding, which was acquired through a discretionary grant awarded to NAACAM by the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (Merseta).

“Based on the Covid-19 lockdowns, stricter work capacity regulations and the subsequent impact on the industry, we anticipated retrenchments. The programme was borne out of the need to reduce this impact,” explains NEXTEC cluster executive Brent Oakes, adding that Covid-19 was cited as a key reason for retrenchments in the industry.

However, he notes that “during the recruitment drive, we were unable to find significant numbers to ringfence the programme to the automotive component manufacturers sector, which could be indicative of a less adverse than thought impact on the sector”.

However, a formal industry survey is under way to properly quantify the impact.

The Road to Reskilling programme supports in-classroom training and includes two learning options at National Qualification Framework (NQF) Level 2 and NQF Level 4 – depending on the needs of the participating learners.

“NAACAM is committed to supporting the development of a pipeline of critical skills for the sector and is grateful for the generous support from the Merseta,” said NAACAM commercial director Shivani Singh at the induction in May.

Although the discretionary grant award was ringfenced to the first 300 learners, Oakes explains that there are other prospective skills-demand-driven projects in the pipeline, as well as plans for different programme iterations based on the training programme in future.

“Our focus has been on ringfencing the programme to the automotive component manufacturing and allied industries, which all form part of the automotive value chain and those retrenched within it. Additionally, there is a need for transformation with an emphasis on gender transformation at all occupational levels,” Oakes concludes.

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SOLVING TOGETHER: Learning Development Starts Here – Tech Job Creation Project a Huge Success for Youth Employment

Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative
ProServ South Africa
Faculty Training Institute

With the need for youth skills development at the forefront of everything we do, ProServ South Africa [PSA] and Faculty Training Institute [FTI] partnered with the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative [CAPACITI] in 2019 to deliver a highly successful ICT skills development project. Both PSA and FTI have a 20-year reputation of responding to IT, ICT and Business Analysis industry requirements.

The overall aim was to deliver training via reputable institutions, give practical work experience via host sites, and create job opportunities for 600 unemployed youths. For us learning and development always begins with associating with the right organisations. To this end the MICTSETA, CAPACITI, The Jobs Fund and the International Youth Foundation, have made all this possible.

Four qualifications were trained:

  • FETC: IT Technical Support – NQF Level 4
  • NC: IT Systems Development – NQF Level 5
  • NC: IT Systems Support - NQF Level 5
  • NC: Business Analysis Support Practice - NQF Level 5

Four provinces were involved:

  • Gauteng
  • Western Cape
  • Eastern Cape
  • KwaZulu Natal

The results are staggering, even in normal circumstances:

  • 568 youths aged 18 to 28 trained
  • 485 successfully graduated (85%)
  • 276 graduates employed (57%)

Given the high levels of unemployment in South Africa and a pandemic disrupting economy’s globally, this is an initiative to be truly proud of.

To all our partners, we thank you and to our graduates, we salute you.


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EOH provides comment on ENSafrica’s Steven Powell at the Commission

EOH Group Chief Executive Officer, Stephen van Coller

Steven Powell’s testimony at the Commission – 25 May 2021

EOH Group Chief Executive Officer, Stephen van Coller and EOH’s legal counsel, the ENSafrica’s head of the Forensics Department, Steven Powell initially provided testimony to the Commission in November 2020, related to irregular legacy EOH contracts. The ENSafrica investigation initiated in February 2019 at the new EOH Board's instruction, covered the period from 2015 to Stephen van Coller’s appointment in September 2018. Steven Powell’s recent testimony was a continuation of his initial testimony from November 2020, and a request by the Commission to provide additional information. It was during that testimony on the 25th of May 2021 that Steven Powell provided further clarity on wrong doings that occurred between 2014 and 2019.

The corruption modus operandi

This modus operandi as evidenced by the ENSafrica Forensic investigation has shown that often contracts were bid for and concluded below the value of the cost of delivery of the contract in order to secure the work. It is believed that the intention was for the perpetrators to open a contract account in EOH finance to submit invoices, in order to siphon off money. This was done, in many instances, before any payments had been received for the contract. More frequently than not, the payments made by EOH to sub-contractors for work not done were related to parties who were not even part of the tender process. ENSafrica’s view is that the perpetrators belief was that in the future they could get change orders signed off (work around the procurement requirements) and increase the contract amount to a reasonable level.

This contracting practise has cost EOH significantly as it has concluded the delivery of services under these problematic contract. Furthermore, almost R900m has been stolen from EOH through the siphoning process. The new EOH board and management faced enormous challenges and have had to work extra hard to repay R2bn of the R4bn legacy debt that was racked up due to poor management and looting. As previously reported, EOH has made significant progress and reported its first positive operating profit for the first half the 2021 financial year since the new Board and management took over. In addition, the process to create a permanent capital structure for EOH is well advanced and should be completed in the next 12 months. As has been disclosed extensively over the past two years, the new EOH management team has proactively engaged and co-operated with all authorities including the Hawks, Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), National Treasury, SARS and other law enforcement authorities. Furthermore, civil and criminal proceedings by EOH against implicated parties are underway to recover funds from parties who have been unlawfully enriched at the expense of EOH.

Department of Home Affairs ABIS (DHA) agreement awarded in 2015

Following the presentation to parliament on the 24 May 2021 of the Nexia SAB&T report findings into the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) AGSA Forensic Investigation regarding the appointment of EOH Mthombo (Pty) Ltd for the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS), EOH wishes to provide clarity on this issue:

Stephen van Coller, EOH Group CEO said, “The Department of Home Affairs ABIS (DHA) agreement awarded in 2015, was to migrate from the Home Affairs National Information System (HANIS) to an automated biometric information system (ABIS). This was a critical project to consolidate citizens’ data and enable further digtisation of the Department of Home Affairs processes. This contract formed part of the initial problematic legacy contracts as identified in the ENSafrica forensic investigation initiated by the EOH Board in February 2019. At the time of discovery, the new EOH management team reported its concerns regarding the awarding of the contract to the Hawks and the FIC.

As acknowledged in the Nexia SAB&T forensic report, EOH fully cooperated with the investigation on information available to the Group at the time, and importantly EOH further initiated action to recover losses caused by the perpetrators of wrongdoing.

Background to the contract

The total contract value was c.R410 million. The contract bid was placed at R200m below the other competitors in order to secure the contract, allegedly based on leaked inside information. EOH has only received c.R282 million incl. VAT in payment for services rendered. To date, EOH has successfully delivered 51 of the 60 contracted milestones for phase 1 of the Project, which have been signed off and accepted by the DHA. EOH has further procured and built two data centres as contracted. In addition all contracted interfaces have been built and unit testing has been completed.

The remaining milestones in phase 2 were ceded to a the sub-contractor by EOH on 1 April 2021 following a proposal submitted by EOH to the DHA in March 2020. This has the required legislated approvals. As part of EOH’s commitment to deal with the past appropriately, EOH ensured the cession remains within the original budgeted expense and that the hand over is managed appropriately. This has been at EOH’s own cost. The project was unfortunately delayed for a number of reasons and in order to resolve the disputed issues, this now forms part of an ongoing arbitration process.

Accountability remains paramount

Said Stephen van Coller, EOH Group CEO, “The EOH independent forensic investigation itself is behind the group, and we have reported suspected fraud and corruption to the authorities and instituted legal proceedings where appropriate. We have also duly engaged the relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure that anyone found guilty of wrongdoing will ultimately be held accountable for their actions.

We remain encouraged by the ongoing support and feedback we have received from all our stakeholders including our clients, our suppliers and our investors. I am especially appreciative of our c.6200 hardworking and honest people who were not part of these legacy issues and who have remained committed to staying the course and building the EOH of the future.”

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Integrated, customisable workforce management for today’s challenges

NEXTEC Security and Building Technologies (SBT) has been in operation for over 25 years, and although the name of the company may be new, NEXTEC SBT is still an EOH company. The NEXTEC Security and Building Technologies division focuses on providing integrated solutions to current challenges businesses face.

SBT provides end-to-end solutions for electronic security, CCTV, fire detection/suppression, audio visual, building management systems, Wi-Fi and LAN, structured cabling, and data centre/server rooms, as well as solutions for the Workforce Management vertical. The Workforce Management Division offers solutions integrating time and attendance (T&A), access control as well as health and safety solutions. It currently services over 600 clients, has a solid base across South Africa where it supplies its workforce management solutions as well as the Synerion product range.

Linda Glieman, business unit manager for Solutions at SBT, says the company is constantly innovating and developing new solutions to keep up with the changing workforce and markets. A significant part of its development is focused on integration with many of the access control, HR, and related technologies in the market, allowing it to provide a seamless solution to clients without limiting which products they can use. As an example, the company has integrated its solutions with biometric and traditional access solutions from companies like IDEMIA, Suprema, Impro, Gallagher, Hikvision, and others.

The SBT solution includes offering on-site, cloud, or hybrid workforce management solutions according to customers’ requirements. In addition, given the disruption caused by COVID-19, the company is geared to support mobile workforce management to include remote workers with its Synerion Mobile solution

Working remotely or in the office

Glieman says the mobility solutions it has available range from traditional T&A through to expensing and HR functionality to ensure that no management information is lacking just because people are not in the office. This includes collecting GPS location data, ensuring productivity is well managed.

The cloud service makes the entire solution simpler for the customer as SBT handles all the infrastructure challenges, backups, and any updates are immediately available. Maintenance is also simplified as technicians’ travel time to and from clients is dramatically reduced. All additional infrastructure services, on-site or in the cloud, including product development, are available from SBT, ensuring a cohesive integrated approach to solving clients’ needs.

Delivering a full, customised solution

With this approach, SBT can provide complex workforce management solutions with field and maintenance services integrated with electronic security, safety, and network technology equipment. A dedicated service operation centre manages contracts and service delivery according to client specifications and priority levels.

Of course, Glieman adds that many clients want to keep their solutions on premises, and SBT caters for this by allowing full on-site control and management. Its own developed S-QUBE and BES solutions are functionally rich and can be customised to meet the client's specific requirements. SBT has a dedicated development team that is backed by the extensive EOH iOCO Software Development Division.

Synerion is an international workforce management solution aimed at large enterprises, also offering a range of functions for corporate workforce management requirements, including cloud services. SBT offers this product along with all the services and backup support required.

Customisation services are available to each client, no matter which product they use, as well as bespoke development, to ensure the software and services integrate seamlessly into their environment.

“From time and attendance to occupancy-based scheduling features, absence management, operational health and safety, and payroll and HR integration, our comprehensive and efficient workforce management software platforms help optimise resources and productivity,” notes Glieman. “The integrated solutions we create are smart, resilient, and robust enough to operate in corporate offices as well as at mining and industrial operations. We connect people and buildings to data, information, processes, places, resources and each other.”

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