Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor last week opened a Centre of Specialisation for mechanical fitters and riggers at the False Bay Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College.
This brings to six the number of TVET colleges in the Western Cape that specialise in eight of the thirteen trades identified by government for development.
The five other colleges in the province with centres of specialisation are the College of Cape Town for automechanics and plumbing; Boland College for welding; South Cape College for bricklaying; Northlink College for fitting and turning; and West Coast College for pipefitting.
Pandor said the centres of specialisation were important for a number of reasons, including to train artisans for trades that are in demand; to place colleges in a better partnership with employers; to build a better apprenticeship system; and to lay the foundation for college differentiation.
“Others colleges can specialise in plumbing or welding in the future, but we want to encourage expertise and avoid duplication,” she said.
Therefore, she posited that the Centres of Specialisation Programme was pioneering the way for the transformation of the TVET college system.
She clarified that the transformation means making colleges ever more relevant and responsive to industry labour demand needs, while simultaneously lifting their capacity to deliver the best occupational programmes.
Pandor highlighted that there were many problems in the education and training sector in the country and that investing in colleges and universities was a response to such challenges.
“The aim is to offer young people a range of education and training alternatives, including universities. The idea is to create a route to better skills and technical qualifications.
“We plan to improve quality and create diverse entry points to other institutions in post school education and training. The efforts directed at creating college and employer links are intended to ease the acquisition of work based skills for young trainees,” the Minister noted.
She highlighted that the programme benefitted from a close working relationship with various industry associations, which have helped to develop relevant and responsive curricula.
“The role of sector education and training authorities (Setas) in linking employers to the Centres of Specialisation Programme has ensured that all participating employers are guaranteed discretionary grants. Setas are beginning to integrate the Centres of Specialisation Programme into their planning and reporting system.
“The collaboration breaks down the barriers between education institutions and industry and helps new employers to support the apprenticeship system.”
Pandor emphasised the importance of employers seeing the benefit of apprenticeships to their business and industry.
“This can’t just be about recouping the apprenticeship grant. If that’s the only motivation, then the whole initiative is doomed to failure. The Centres of Specialisation Programme is about helping employers to get the skills they need and to boost their productivity and helping young people fill the skills gaps in South Africa.”
“Our expectation is that apprentices enrolled in the Centres of Specialisation Programme will complete their trade tests and not only gain employment but also create employment by becoming artisan entrepreneurs and employing others,” she concluded.
False Bay TVET College