TVET intervention aims to boost engineering skills pipeline in Eastern Cape

3rd August 2021 By: Irma Venter - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

TVET intervention aims to boost engineering skills pipeline in Eastern Cape

IYF programme manager Masakhane Mlamla, AIDC EC project coordinator Priscilla Fry and AIDC EC CEO Thabo Shenxane

An intervention launched with public technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges in the Eastern Cape is expected to aid the output of engineering training and boost the pipeline of skills required by South Africa’s automotive industry.

The intervention will place mechanical and electrical engineering TVET students at host companies for work-integrated learning during their studies and see industry experts providing guest lectures to TVET students, ultimately equipping graduates with the experience that is likely to boost their employment prospects, while also providing value-add to businesses in the province.

The initiative will be implemented by the Automotive Industry Development Centre Eastern Cape (AIDC EC) as part of High Gear, an initiative managed by the International Youth Foundation (IYF) in partnership of the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (Naacam) and the Department of Higher Education and Training.

“High Gear is an initiative to create a skills development ecosystem that is coordinated, dynamic and responsive to young people’s and employer’s needs in automotive component manufacturing sector,” says Naacam commercial director Shivani Singh.

“The successful development of these skills is critical to achieving the South African Automotive Masterplan 2035 objective of doubling of employment in the value chain.”

High Gear’s work in the Eastern Cape, which will also expose lecturers to the automotive components manufacturing work environment, is funded by the United States Agency for International Development and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. 

The UK government’s Skills for Prosperity Programme is funding High Gear implementation in KwaZulu-Natal.

Speaking at its launch, AIDC CEO Thabo Shenxane said High Gear’s TVET workplace exposure component will be piloted with National Accredited Technical Education Diploma level 4 to level 6 and National Certificate Vocational level 2 to level 4 engineering lecturers and students at three Eastcape Midlands College campuses, beginning with immediate effect.

“The first phase of the project involves acquiring host companies, but we expect that before the fourth quarter of the year, more than 100 learners and 15 lecturers and will be interacting in a structured way with industry.”

“The optimisation of TVET education that links learners with employers, provides industry with a direct opportunity to shape and develop the technical and soft skills they need. 

“It also provides industry participants with a personal, first-hand view of potential employees.”

High Gear programme director Colin Hagans said TVET staff and students would receive workplace exposure, involving short visits and periods of observation at manufacturing companies in addition to workplace-based experience, typically of five to 15 days in duration in a real-world workplace, as part of their programme of study. 

Once identified and secured, guest lecturers will be briefed and prepared by High Gear-contracted consultants prior to entering TVET college classrooms. 

Beginning in January next year, AIDC-EC will transition to serving as the lead management intermediary for High Gear work-integrated learning (WIL) implementation in te hEastern Cape, with continued technical support from High Gear. 

As part of this transition, AIDC-EC will also lead the expansion of the High Gear WIL component to TVET students from other High Gear partner TVET colleges in the province.

“The project marks a significant turning point in the value of TVET engineering courses in the region,” stated Shenxane.

“The effects created by the integration of future graduates and employers will make a significant contribution both to the quality of output and to our socio-economic development.”