In the Limelight: Building competitiveness through digitisation for effective skills development -W&RSETAWholesale and Retail SETA inaugural research conference October 5, 2022, Cape Town and virtual

W&RSETA -Wholesale and Retail SETA research conference 2022, Cape Town and online

When: October 5, 2022- virtual and in Cape Town -8am to 5pm
Where: Century City Convention Centre, Cape Town  
Book your virtual seat (free):
Info: Martha Shingange 083 329 0291 or e-mail:    

The W&RSETA is hosting its inaugural conference on October 5, 2022 in Cape Town at Century City Convention Centre, in-person and will also go out online. The conference theme: Building wholesale and retail sector competitiveness through digitisation for effective skills development. Esteemed delegates from South Africa and around the world, will be sharing their thoughts, providing illuminating insights and strategies for the retail sector to embrace digitalisation. The Wholesale and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority (W&RSETA) was established in 2000 and is one of 21 SETAs, each servicing a specific economic sector in South Africa. What can the W&RSETA do for your business/company? Read on as CEO of the W&RSETA,Tom Mkhwanazi, tells more. Delegates are posing intriguing scenarios and change solutions. The conference is fully booked but there are online seats available- nab your online seat- at no cost.

The theme -Building wholesale and retail sector competitiveness through digitisation for effective skills development. Has this theme come out of the pandemic, when many businesses went digital? 

Tom Mkhwanazi: “The W&R Sector was making slow transition into the 4IR even before the pandemic. COVID-19 catapulted this transition as companies had to adapt to digitisation in order to remain afloat. The pandemic can be described as the silver lining that accelerated this transition, exposing companies to the possibilities that they can explore to grow their businesses through digitisation. The conference theme will also guide discussions on identifying practical solutions linked to the mandate for skills development and national imperatives, as well as preparing the sector for future disruptions.“

Digitalisation is not cheap. How is the W&RSETA able to assist the Wholesale and Retail sector in terms of grants and mentoring?

Tom Mkhwanazi: “Through the Mandatory and Discretionary Grants, companies are able to implement programmes that address their digital transformation requirements. The SETA funds skills that are highlighted in its Sector Skills Plan, on which digitisation is a priority. Collaborations with strategic partners are also implemented to assist employers in maximising their possibilities to remain competitive and adapt to future skills.”

We are hearing the buzz about “digital labour”. Is this something that the W&RSETA  is addressing?

Tom Mkhwanazi: “The world is transitioning to news of business through digital technology and the W&RSETA has a responsibility to ensure that employees are reskilled and upskilled for new business requirements.”

How many delegates are signed up and how many speakers?

Tom Mkhwanazi: “We have about 200 delegates who will be attending the conference physically in Cape Town. To make the conference more accessible and reach a wider audience across the country, there will be virtual streaming which has already attracted over 400 delegates and counting. Leading up to the conference, a research masterclass for TVET colleges, universities, and key industry players is being hosted with an objective of sharing insights with students and management from these institutions on international trends that affect the Wholesale and Retail Sector.”

Is there a charge to attend?

Tom Mkhwanazi: “The conference is fully funded by the W&RSETA and boasts phenomenal international speakers to enrich the discussions and provide a glimpse to international trends that can be adopted locally.”

What does the W&RSETA offer? What is the time line involved in getting assistance?

Tom Mkhwanazi: “The W&RSETA facilitates education and training in the Wholesale and Retail Sector through a government mandate under the Skills Development Act. This means that we collaborate with employers and training providers to ensure that employees are upskilled and young unemployed are provided with opportunities to be trained for the workplace. We do not offer, but facilitate a myriad of programmes to accommodate everyone from the shop floor right, corner shop up to the boardroom. These include learnerships and skills programmes (short programmes), management and executive development, SMME, rural and co-operative development, trade union capacitation, graduate workplace experience, internships and career guidance & development. Companies are allocated a Skills Development Levy Number when they register with the South African Revenue Services which entitles them to participate in programmes that are offered by any of the 21 SETAs. In the first year of participating in the skills development process, a company is required to submit a Workplace Skills Plan (WSP) detailing skills requirements that the company will focus on for a particular year. This submission must be made by April 30 and the W&RSETA assists small and medium companies to prepare and submit this form at no cost. In the subsequent year, the company must submit an Annual Training Report on training interventions that were implemented. This process allows companies to apply for Mandatory Grants and participate in Discretionary Grant funded programmes. Companies with an annual salary bill below R500 000 are exempted from paying the Skills Development Levy; however, the W&RSETA supports them through Discretionary Grant funded programmes to ensure that they also benefit from a skilled workforce that in turn contributes to growing the economy.”

How does that business owner go about getting information – and having access to speak to someone at W&RSETA?

Tom Mkhwanazi: “The W&RSETA is present in all nine provinces of South Africa and we collaborate with TVET colleges that are positioned mainly in rural and township areas to increase our footprint and improve access to our services. Our contact details are available on our website

W&RSETA: Tom Mkhwanazi -CEO of the Wholesale and Retail SETA.
Conference speaker: Prof. Dr. Thomas Dobbelstein, from the University in Ravensburg (Germany). His topic: Whether to adopt or not? A South African/German comparison of consumer’s resistance against and adoption of smart Household Appliances (IoT).
Robotics: Professor Arthur G.O. Mutambara is the director at Institute for the Future of Knowledge (IFK) and is Professor in Robotics, University of Johannesburg and is a world-renowned roboticist, academic, author, Pan-Africanist and technology strategist. His topic: Challenges in the future retail landscape, trends, and Skills Development recommendations.
The Wholesale and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority (W&RSETA)

Website: https://

✳ Sponsored content. Images supplied. This interview has been marginally edited for length and clarity.