Are Workplace Skills Plans and Annual Training Reports more than a necessary act of compliance? - HR Future helps people prepare for the Future of Work and is South Africa's leading print, digital and online Human Resources magazine.

Are Workplace Skills Plans and Annual Training Reports more than a necessary act of compliance?

Companies participating in Skills Development initiatives are required to submit their Workplace Skills Plan (WSP) and Annual Training Reports (ATR) by 28 April 2017.

There are many benefits to viewing this as much more than just a necessary act of compliance.  

Smart and strategic skills development earns actual financial rebates for your business. Every year, there is the opportunity to recover up to 20% of the mandatory grant from the Skills Development Levies paid to SARS. Your WSP & ATR can also be used as an application for a discretionary grant for training in scarce skills.  

Points can also be earned under the new BBBEE Codes for the Skills Development priority element pending successful submission of WSP & ATR.

The value of developing meaningful WSPs & ATRs is multi-faceted. Apart from achieving compliance and earning financial rebates, these plans and reports can also add strategic value to a business. Companies can identify their true development requirements so that they can address skills gaps and shortages and earmark the right talent for growth in order to reach their strategic objectives.

By using the WSP and ATR as tools for developing this plan, organisations can align their need for present and future talent with their business objectives and direction. One of the challenges businesses face in developing their skills plans in a meaningful way is that training typically involves not just the costs of courses but the hidden expenses of having employees away from work. Learnerships help to reduce the latter as they enable employees to mostly develop the skills their company needs on-the-job.

Businesses take a truly strategic approach to developing their WSPs and ATRs. There’s no way around it, skills development is an investment, and you want returns that empower your success.

Here are some important elements to focus on when developing WSPs and ATRs:

• Know what you need – a skills audit helps you to get real picture of the talent you have and the talent you need to achieve your business goals. Identifying skills and understanding the gaps ensures that you can plan and implement worthwhile training.

• Involve your team – employees’ attitudes to the training you offer are vital to the success of training interventions. You need them to be on-board and the only way to achieve that is to consult, involve and listen to them.

Develop individual plans – mutually-agreed individual development plans help you and your team members to clarify expectations and manage growth.

• Measure success - use the ATR as a tool to reflect on the value of the training you have provided over the past year. It can help you to chart progress, identify gaps and address skills challenges.

In this way, the WSP and ATR can become much more than documents that have to be completed by someone in HR. How you approach it can entrench a real culture of learning, growth and development in your business, and help you to successfully manage your current talent and attract new talent to your business.

Richard Rayne is the CEO of iLearn.

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