Transforming our people

While our ability to meet the internal transformation objectives originally defined in our Strategy 2025 was curtailed by the pandemic, we have successfully adapted to an entirely new socio-economic and operating environment. Within the framework of our Recover and Sustain Strategy, we are implementing the People and Culture Strategy that was approved by the Board in the previous period. This sets out realistic short-and-medium-term transformation objectives.

The key objectives of the plan are to design a smart and flexible organisation, energise our workforce, build high-performance teams with future-focused skills, entrench an ethical culture, enhance our carbon intelligence, continue to enable hybrid working, and strengthen our commercial agility.

The Human Resources division also led the process of developing both our Revised Governance Framework and Operating Model, which take new realities into account. The new framework and model were developed to enable us to become a leaner and more agile organisation without having to compromise our transformation agenda.

Management control

The appointment of a new CEO and CFO in the first half of 2020 brought stability to the business at a critical time. Throughout the period to 31 March 2023, they and the other members of the Board provided the strong and consistent leadership necessary for us to navigate the monumental challenges we had to face. In this, they were supported by the Group's Executive Committee and the Management Committees in all of the operating units.

Employment equity

Budget constraints during the pandemic meant that we had to put all but the most essential appointments on hold and delay the implementation of certain companywide initiatives to enhance employment equity. However, as soon as the State of Disaster was lifted, we undertook a process of developing a revised Employment Equity Plan, which was approved on 18 November 2022. Further revisions are in progress to address evolving issues within the business.

The focus of the plan is to drive a transformation mindset throughout the organisation by ensuring that we attain and retain a diverse workforce, support the development of black-owned businesses, and promote youth development. These objectives are a day-to-day reality in the organisation where, for example, the Human Resources division spent 98% of its budget for the reporting period with B-BBEE suppliers, significantly exceeding its target of 80%.

As in all aspects of our business, we continue to consult closely with our employees and their union representatives regarding our transformation targets.

Employee demographics

We also remain committed to maintaining a workforce that is representative of the demographics of the economically active population of South Africa. While absolute employment numbers have decreased since the voluntary retrenchment programmes of 2020 and 2021, representation continues to be broadly on a par with national targets for each demographic group, with a few exceptions.

As at 31 March 2023, the total employee population was 2 448 (FY2021/22: 2 439), with black representation being 96.3%, 5.1% higher than the national benchmark for this demographic. Black males are, however, slightly underrepresented, making up 42.3% of the employee population against a national target of 43.7%. White males and white females are more significantly underrepresented, with white males making up 2.2% of the employee population against a target of 5.1% and white females making up 1.5% against a target of 3.9%. The number of employees with disabilities increased from 50 in the previous period to 51 due to the recruitment of three interns on fixed-term contracts.

With this in mind, the Employment Equity Plan will continue to be socialised with line management and organised labour to ensure that targets are achieved within the underrepresented demographics.

Skills development

In compliance with Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA) requirements, we submitted a comprehensive Workplace Skills Plan for the reporting period. Drawing on input from line managers throughout the business, the plan focused on:

While young people between the ages of 18 and 35 are a primary focus for us, access to skills development and further education and training is available to all employees, up to and including those at executive level.

The realities of budget constraints nevertheless continued to be felt throughout the reporting period and only 40% of the required budget was approved for expenditure. The first tranche of R5.5 million was used to cover outstanding invoices from the previous period, bursary obligations and aviation security training requirements. No new bursaries were offered during the period but, as in the previous two periods, we maintained our commitments to existing bursary holders.

The second tranche of R4.5 million was used to meet regulatory training requirements for 446 employees, TETA learnership requirements and bursary obligations for the 2023 academic year, with the total investment in maintaining bursaries amounting to just over R1.3 million. Training in International Global Report Formatting was also conducted, and 77 employees were trained in this area. Mandatory and regulatory training is conducted through the Training Academy and 1 890 employees were trained in the three core areas of safety, security, and fire and rescue.

In addition to this training, we continued to implement the Board-approved Commercialisation Strategy for the Training Academy, which is focused on nine priority areas. These include the development of the campus itself, the development of the Virtual Academy and the ongoing accreditation of the Academy as a whole.

The Training Academy is the only aviation security training centre in the sub-Saharan region and has been accredited to provide training since 2004. This accreditation is based on ad hoc audits by various authorities throughout the year and has to be renewed annually so that we can continue to offer accredited courses in line with our Commercialisation Strategy

The Academy is also in the process of applying for accreditation with the various SETAs, which will ensure that the courses we offer are certified by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and count as credits towards various diploma and degree courses.

With our business focus diversifying and shifting to concentrate on building non-aeronautical revenue, we recognise what a critical role the Academy has to play in capacitating the organisation for future sustainability and success.

Skills audit

Similarly, we recognise that the organisation has undergone significant changes during the past three periods and that this has led to a loss of skilled workers, specific capabilities, and organisational knowledge.

As our business recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is therefore necessary to conduct a skills audit, which will help us to assess the capabilities of our current workforce and identify areas for improvement. The results of this audit will help us to develop targeted training programmes, improve employee engagement and retention, and ultimately drive business growth and success. The procurement of an external supplier to conduct the audit is currently being finalised.