Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande on Friday pleaded with business to become a platform for training and upskilling school leavers.
Addressing delegates at the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry convention, in Midrand, he said a year under an internship or training programme would ensure a well-rounded education for further education and training (FET) college and university students.
The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), as part of its aim of improving the quality of post-school learners, university graduates and FET college students, hoped to create a workplace experience/education integration.
The Minister, who said the DHET had about 100 interns of its own to “lead by example", challenged companies to take on learners, as it would better prepare them for the workplace and assist many to complete diplomas requiring third-year workplace experience.
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said the Western Cape provincial government had 1 000 interns, adding that education was critical for development.
Improving education should be a combined responsibility between the State, business, teachers and parents, she said.
Nzimande noted that South Africa had missed the opportunity for on-the-job training during the FIFA World Cup 2010 preparations, but it could not afford to miss the opportunity for training and knowledge transfer during the country's ongoing infrastructure drive.
The department also expected the publication of a white paper on post-school education and training next year, which would address the issue of better-quality education aligned to the country's needs.
Currently, there were three university students for every FET student, while ideally, he said, there should be one university student for every three FET students, as the largest skill shortage was in mid-level skills, such as technicians and artisans.