Rebuilding KZN with the help of an empowered workforce

By Sibusiso Tembe, education specialist at Optimi Workplace KwaZulu-Natal
Issued by Optimi
Johannesburg, Oct 24, 2022

In recent years, KwaZulu-Natal has been through immensely challenging times. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the July 2021 riots, and, more recently, the devastating flooding in April this year – KwaZulu-Natal has endured the unimaginable.

The cost to the economy has run into the billions of rands. And there’s no doubt that it will take a huge effort to rebuild investor confidence.

However, this rebuilding process has started in earnest, and we at Optimi Workplace believe that adult education and workforce training have a huge role to play in helping to take the province forward.

In fact, our confidence in KZN is so resolute that we’ve recently opened a new office in Umhlanga as we look to help companies improve their workforce in this crucial part of South Africa.

A province with ingredients for success

KwaZulu-Natal is a crucial province in our country, particularly when considering the key infrastructure that it houses.

Durban’s Port remains South Africa’s most important import and export logistics hub. The N3 highway is also a crucial lifeline that connects this port to Johannesburg and the rest of the country.

Added to this, Durban remains South Africa’s third largest economic hub, after Johannesburg and Cape Town.

And with millions of residents and a diverse population, this too plays to KZN’s strengths.

Taking KZN’s workforce to the next level

At Optimi Workplace, we believe that companies in the region can play a major role in upskilling their staff, and subsequently reaping the benefits of that via an improved economy, as well as additional points on their B-BBEE scorecards.

We’ve helped many companies in KZN ranging from Transnet, RBM, Busamed, Imana, Rossmin, Ninian & Lester, Imperial Logistics and others, with workforce training and upskilling. As part of our work, we have offered training that caters from NQF level one through to level five, spanning from Adult Education and Training (AET) through to foundational learning competency, business admin, generic management and even adult matric.

Most recently, we assisted the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing (FP&M) SETA with upskilling 60 unemployed learners with AET certifications.

There are many routes and options that companies can explore when it comes to empowering their staff, but listed below are just three practical examples that can have a huge impact on improving the quality of our workforce in KZN: adult matric, digital literacy training and learnerships.

It’s never too late to get your matric

It is estimated that only a third of adults in South Africa have completed Grade 12, which leaves them without the education necessary to study further or progress in their careers.

In a bid to close this gap, the Department of Education offers the Amended Senior Certificate (ASC), which is targeted at adult, out-of-school learners who are over the age of 21 and who want to complete their matric.

Both tertiary education institutions and employers view the ASC in the same light as the National Senior Certificate (NSC).

A matric-level qualification is widely regarded as a minimum level of education by employers. By making this qualification available, businesses in South Africa have the opportunity to empower their employees and boost the skills levels within their organisations. At Optimi Workplace, we’ve helped hundreds of businesses empower their staff with this ASC programme.

Digital literacy is key

The second key component where companies in the province can assist with upskilling their workforce lies in boosting digital literacy. In today’s world, digital literacy is just as important as traditional literacy and numeracy skills, especially in a world where technology is rapidly changing all the time.

At Optimi Workplace, we’ve been rolling out essential computer skills training for thousands of workforce learners across South Africa.

This is a crucial course that provides these learners with the basic knowledge of how to use computers and digital tools to help them and their organisations progress.


A learnership is a work-based learning programme that leads to an NQF-registered qualification.

Learnership programmes help learners gain the necessary skills and workplace experience that will open up better employment or self-employment opportunities.

Should your company pay for employees to complete their adult matric or digital literacy training or learnership, this cost can count towards your total skills development spend under the B-BBEE codes. In addition, there are SETAs that assist with funding for upskilling of staff. Another further benefit is that there are tax rebates that organisations can reap from upskilling staff.

It’s clear that the incentives are there to create a win-win scenario for KZN’s corporate landscape, where both employers and employees benefit from greater skills development. Rebuilding the province can be done with greater collaborative effort.