TVETs are becoming irrelevant to employers.

Staff Writer | Jun 26, 2019
The private sector has long been sceptical of the ability of Technical Vocational and Training (TVET) colleges to produce highly skilled artisans. Such a breakdown in trust between companies and colleges is detrimental to the implementation of the Dual System apprenticeship programme in South Africa. TVET colleges will need to get their house in order to instil confidence that such a programme is feasible in the country.

In a nutshell, the Dual System apprenticeship programme is an approach pioneered in Germanic-speaking countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Austria. It combines technical education provided by a technical college with practical experience in the workplace.  South Africa has made efforts to adopt such an approach.  The local application of the Dual System is known as the Centres of Specialisation (CoS), and it integrates theory, simulated practice and work experience, and curricula designed by industry experts. 

Such an approach, however, would require close collaboration between TVETs and companies and the latter have at many times shown little appetite to do so.  This is because a myriad of challenges currently face TVETS.  TVET colleges suffer from lack of management capacity and poor governance, while some infrastructure is old and worn-out.  Underqualified staff further limit the quality of education and training provided.  Low throughput rates are another big problem at TVETs.  Underfunding also leads to a lack of resources and skills to facilitate partnerships with employer organisations.  As a result, the TVET curricula are often out of date and not aligned with the needs of the employer.  Learners are thus ill-equipped for the world of work, having not attained relevant skills needed by the employer. 

The reduced capacity of TVETs has thus encouraged companies to conduct their own in-house training.  Employers will approach a private provider which will customise the training programme to the needs of the employer.  This decreases the employer’s risk of relying on dysfunctional TVET colleges. 

If industry is expected to invest more resources and time into colleges to ensure the success of the Dual System apprenticeship programme, then TVETs must drastically improve their education and training outputs.  One way is to perhaps have a lecture room on-site at the company’s premises.  This would make it easier for lectures to relate theory with the world of work.  Weaknesses identified at the factory floor can also immediately be addressed and corrected.  TVETs will have to implement such solutions or face fading into obscurity.     


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