The Department of Public Service and Administration says it is doing weekly checks to ensure that adverts for open positions in government include the requirement for a certificate of competence in administration.

The department said that it issues a weekly Public Service Vacancy Circular where public service posts are advertised. These advertisements are monitored by the department to ensure that the completion of the “Nyukela” certificate is part of the process.

“When it is observed that a department has not complied with the requirement in the advertisement and accompanying notes, it is referred back to the department to correct,” it said.

The Nyukela certificate is part of the government’s ongoing project of professionalising the public service and is a key part of the draft National Implementation Framework, spearheaded by the National School of Government (NSG), published in December 2020.

The draft framework aims to create a capable, ethical and developmental public service; however, it does not see qualifications – such as diplomas, under- or post-graduate degrees, and other certificates – as necessarily being the sole indicator of professionalism.

Instead, its focus is on wider skills development through training programmes and the formal recognition and acknowledgment of a public servant’s experience in governance. It also has a broader focus on conduct and ethics in the public service sector.

The DPSA has previously urged all public servants to enroll in and complete an ethics course through the NSG.

Looking specifically at senior management services, a course was developed in 2018 to train managers “in the effective and efficient functioning of the public service”.

The course is applicable to public servants and citizens who wish to apply for a position in the SMS of the Public Service provided that certain minimum requirements, qualifications and years of experience are met.

To be a senior manager in government at level 13, candidates require an undergraduate qualification at NQF level 7 (bachelor’s degree or advanced diploma) and five years’ experience at the middle management level.

For higher roles, at level 15 or 16, candidates require a postgraduate qualification at NFQ level 8 (postgraduate diploma, bachelor’s degree or honours degree) and eight years of experience at the senior management level.

The salaries for public workers at level 13 are currently set to R1,147,609 per annum, while those at level 16 earn R2,130,602.

It takes approximately 120 hours to complete the Nyukela course, inclusive of all assessment activities, and costs R400.

The department noted that the Nyukela certificate is not required to apply for a public service position, but it must be made clear that it has to be completed prior to being appointed. Senior managers already in positions within the government also need to do the course if they wish to progress to higher positions.

Lack of skills

In May, acting minister of public service and administration, Thulas Nxesi noted that 25.9% of senior managers on the government’s Personnel and Salary System (Persal) did not have the requisite qualifications needed for their position.

This is down from a figure of around 35% of these managers in April 2021. The department said its systems reflect 9,309 senior managers on its payroll, with 2,412 of those being ‘unqualified’ as of 2022.

It stressed, however, that many may simply need to still update their information on the system.

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