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Skills development

What is the Skills development levy (SDL)?

The SDL is a monthly levy, equivalent to 1% of a company’s payroll. It is mandatory for all companies that have an annual wage bill of R500 000 or more. Thrive can assist you to access mandatory and discretionary grants and take advantage of this levy.

Does my organisation have to pay the SDL?
Yes, unless:
  • It is a non-profit organisation – you can apply for an exemption from SDL payments;
  • It is a government department – you only pay 0,1% of your payroll as a contribution to the Seta running costs. You can still participate in all Seta processes, but you simply don’t claim money like other organisations;
  • Your payroll is less than R500 000 a year.
Why should the SDL be paid?
The aim of the Skills Development Act is to improve of the skills of the South African workforce so that the economy can grow and all South Africans can live a better life. At Thrive we believe the SDL focuses attention on investing in staff training and whether this improves aspects such as productivity, transformation and retention.
How is the SDL spent?
  • 20% is claimable in a mandatory grant claim;
  • 50% is claimable through the discretionary grant applications – 40% for PIVOTAL programmes;
  • 20% goes to the Department of Labour’s National Skills Fund for large public skills development projects;
  • 10% goes to Seta running costs.
Can money be claimed back only after expensive formal training?
All Setas advocate the use of good quality, transferable training. Mandatory grants will be given regardless of the training’s accreditation status – Discretionary grants are typically only given for accredited training, this is now formalised as 40% is disbursed for PIVOTAL programme (i.e. programmes aligned to qualifications or part qualifications on the NQF).
The paperwork and Seta processes are confusing. How can I find assistance?
Help is at hand to guide you:
  • The Setas regularly host national road shows to help companies through this process. Contact them and they may offer one-on-one assistance through skills advisors;
  • Use our training section;
  • Enlist the services of a professional Skills Development Facilitator.
Where do I find the right training?

Word of mouth is undoubtedly the best way to check if a course is right for you. You can also try:

The training environment is highly competitive and many options are available. Once you’ve found a good fit for your organisation, remember to check the provider’s accreditation details.

What can I expect from a Skills Development Facilitator (SDF)?
This depends on your needs, and factors such as the size of your company and the processes already in place. For optional SDF services please see our Skills development section.


Does the law require application for accreditation?
No, it is not a legislated issue but rather a market driven effort. Most corporate companies and government training tenders insist on accredited training.
What is an Education and Training Quality Assurance body (ETQA)?
These are bodies within Setas that are responsible for the monitoring and auditing of the provision and achievement of NQF registered standards and qualifications through quality assurance systems and processes. Some ETQAs fall outside the jurisdiction of a specific Seta and these are regulated by professional bodies, such as the SABPP or the Nursing Council.
What if there are no Unit Standards for my course?

Where there are no unit standards, you will need to decide whether to leave it unaligned or accept a currently registered unit standard. Unit standards can be reviewed on

My organisation provides training but no assessments. Is that fine?

As a Seta accredited provider you are obliged to offer assessments to your learners. Learners however have the option to choose whether to be assessed or not.

What is the registration process for assessors?

Assessors need to complete an assessor course and the subsequent portfolio of evidence (POE) assessment. Once deemed competent, assessors are invited to register with the Seta that has jurisdiction over the Unit Standards or qualifications in the desired assessment category.

Who are the QCTO?

The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) is a Quality Council established in 2010 in terms of the Skills Development Act Nr. 97 of 1998. Its role is to oversee the design, implementation, assessment and certification of occupational qualifications, including trades, on the Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework (OQSF).

The QCTO also offers guidance to skills development providers who must be accredited by the QCTO to offer occupational qualifications.