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It was history in the making when the first group of Feti/Heti students officially graduated last month.
The Feti/Heti is a joint programme of the Further Education and Training Institute, the Financial Planning Institute, the Insurance Sector Education and Training Authority (Inseta) and the University of the Western Cape.
Supported by the Department of Higher Education and Training, the programme aims to increase the number of qualified professional financial planners in SA.
To achieve this goal, the Feti/Heti is making it easier and more affordable for students to gain accreditation and qualifications for a career in financial planning.
It makes it possible for FET colleges to offer the equivalent of a first-year university course. Once students complete their first year at an FET college, they can go to university to further their studies.
This means that the Feti/ Heti effectively builds a bridge between college and university – something previously unheard of in the South African education context.
The pilot Feti/Heti started in 2011 with a class of 105 students.
A total of 77 passed their first year at college and received the NQF level-five certificate in wealth management.
They now have the choice to either go back to work (all the students on the pilot are employed) or to continue studying for the NQF level six advanced diploma in management studies at the University of the Western Cape.
And it doesn’t end there – after completing the NQF level-six diploma, they can go to the next level of studies, which is the postgraduate certificate in financial planning.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the Feti/Heti pilot class, Inseta chief executive Sandra Dunn said the event served to celebrate the triumph of both the students and the programme.
“The Feti/Heti programme is making it possible for learners to access university and go through to complete their NQF level six qualifications in a manner that is completely unprecedented. To have the pilot achieve this level of success is amazing,” she said.
“Part of the legacy of apartheid is the fact that education has not always been offered equally. As such, there exists a large portion of the population who have not been able to gain access to a higher education.
“This initiative is changing that – it is offering students the opportunity to develop themselves in ways they could not have done before.”
Owing to the success of the pilot, the Feti/Heti programme will be available to students in the Eastern Cape from the beginning of next year, and will be offered at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
Seamus Needham, project manager of the University of the Western Cape FET Institute, said the unique three-way partnership allowed workers in the industry – who had until now been at a disadvantage owing to the limitations of their qualifications and financial backgrounds – to gain equal access to tertiary education at no personal expense.
There is also no expense involved for the companies that employ the participants of the pilot programme.
“Inseta used discretionary funds to sponsor the 105 learners on this articulation pilot programme. Companies directly benefit from this initiative, as there is no charge for the training. Furthermore, companies can claim back portions of their skills levy for placing employees on accredited training.”
Inseta’s Dunn believes it is through partnerships such as these that the Setas can prove most beneficial.
“Feti/Heti is in line with Inseta’s Sector Skills Plan, which in turn is aligned to the National Growth Path,” she said in her address.
“It is also in keeping with Inseta’s goal to form partnerships which will grow critical skills in the insurance and broader financial industry.
“It is truly a first for the country, and its success is an indication of the opportunities that partnerships in education can offer.
“Inseta is very excited about the Feti/Heti programme. We feel it has the potential to revolutionise the financial planning sector by broadening access and accelerating skills development, something that is much needed.
“It is also part of a bigger drive to professionalise the sector so that financial advisers are equipped to render a service rather than just selling a product. This will benefit not just the sector and those working in it, but the millions of South Africans who use their services every day. It is setting up job and wealth creation, and allowing for further education.”
Because the Feti/Heti programme is the first of its kind, the University of the Western Cape Feti Institute has prepared an academic research paper on the programme and will publish it in due course.
For more information, visit www.inseta.org.za