PPPs critical to addressing unemployment, skills development

3rd February 2023

By: Nadine Ramdass

Creamer Media Writer


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The demand for occupational programmes by both colleges and industry shows that the solution to unemployment as well as producing adequately skilled workers is through public–private partnerships (PPPs), says the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) technical and vocational education and training (TVET) curriculum development and support deputy director James Mogale.

While private companies, government departments – national, provincial or local level – and State-owned companies that own and run technical training centres do train students, they often do not provide enough space to learn practical components of trades such as boiler and burners.

He notes that some colleges – both private and public – lack the facilities required to provide up-to-date and relevant practical training to students. This hinders the full potential and development of students.

Further, a common challenge is that a single workplace does not provide the range of learning experiences required to attain full occupational competence. As a result, learners appear underprepared when they present themselves for assessment and fail to progress to full competence.

Mogale notes that companies can be hesitant to fully train students or new entrants because having experienced staff taken off work to induct learners can hinder productivity. Therefore, incentives need to be introduced to encourage mentorship and develop mentorship programmes.

He explains that challenges in further developing students can be mitigated through strengthened PPPs. This can result in employment and structured workplace training opportunities – for occupations such as boilers and burners – improving tremendously.

“It should be possible to share available well-resourced facilities. The impact of mentorships is beginning to show in industries where partnership is implemented,” he says.

He explains that PPPs that will allow companies to train students include industry practitioners qualifying for grants from sector education and training authorities (Setas). These grants are made to benefit companies that are training students and apprentices.

Companies will also then have an avenue through which to request colleges to effect curriculum changes to optimise preparation of students for training. Companies will also be able to recruit learners from colleges and to make these institutions aware of the conditions the industry has set.

Colleges will have a structured way to communicate with workplaces willing and able to provide structured workplace learning opportunities for trainees. Additionally, colleges will have an avenue to ensure that methodologies and technologies are up to date and relevant.

“Both colleges and companies will be able to make a meaningful contribution to skills development in the country in critically needed areas such as boilers and burners,” Mogale explains.

National initiatives such as the Strategic Infrastructure Projects and Operation Phakisa demand well qualified and skilled artisans. This has resulted in the government setting a target for 30 000 artisans to be qualified yearly.

“It is believed that one of the main reasons for the poor quality of artisans is the lack of intensive, well planned and integrated workplace exposure. This needs to be addressed,” says Mogale.

While there have been improvements in apprenticeships, the outlook remains less than promising because quality remains questionable and the pass rates are low.

Occupational Qualification Dual System

The introduction of the Occupational Qualification Dual System, in 2016, has helped to increase the quality of apprentices been trained. In particular, the integration of theory and practice while still fresh in the mind of apprentices have helped them in understanding their role in the industry.

Mogale explains that the main aim of the dual system is to build capacity in the various public TVET colleges for specific trades, therefore, delivering on their mandate of contributing to the development of well qualified artisans in South Africa more efficiently and effectively.

The DHET is increasing the number of trades that would use the dual system to train apprentices. Trades such as boilers and burners will in future be trained in the dual system through-out the country.

The department is also increasing the number of public colleges that are training the apprentices through dual system, using Setas as the main sponsors of the training.

The number of campuses which offer the dual system programmes has already increased from 26 to 32 since 2016.

The department’s strategy is to establish more priority campuses across the country that will become leading public institutions to offer the dual system. They will further be supported by comprehensive National Occupational Curriculum Content (NOCC) and learning material.

Mogale explains that the DHET ensures that the selected TVET college campuses have the necessary human, material and financial resources to implement the Dual System Apprenticeships.

Through Setas, the department engages with employers within its region (preferably within a 25 km radius for urban areas and up to 50 km in rural areas) to form working relationships to implement the dual system. With the assistance of the relevant Seta, apprentices will be recruited and employed or contracted by employers.

Edited by Zandile Mavuso
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Features




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