DURBAN - THE government is examining new mechanisms backed by the public and private sectors to support students in the so-called “missing middle” income bracket and post-graduate funding.
Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande said this on Monday when he spoke at the 27th Annual PwC Education Conference.
He said that regardless of the many strides made by the government in funding post-school education and training, it still remained a challenge.
“Cabinet will now be considering revised options for student funding, including what can be done for the ‘missing middle’,” he said.
Nzimande said that for transformation to permeate the post-school education and training sector, businesses needed to lend a hand to open the corporate world to young graduates.
“There are a number of ways to achieve this, including assisting working with my Department of Science and Innovation to raise capital for the SARCHi (South African Research Chairs Initiative) and to expand mentorship programmes within our institutions that can convert graduates into qualified professionals.”
He said that this was particularly important as the country continued to develop the next generation of academics and researchers.
“The government and my department in particular are working towards the review of the higher education, science and innovation landscape and to finalise our Decadal Plan to strengthen and grow the science, technology and innovation system with skills development as a central pillar of our job creation and human resource development programmes.”
Nzimande said this meant that university degrees should not be the only criteria to enter the business sector.
“It’s essential that corporate South Africa unbolts its gates to graduates from universities of technology, TVET colleges and other training institutions supported by Sectoral Education and Training Authority so that we have a range and mix of knowledge and practical skills entering the workplace,” said Nzimande.
He also called on the business sector to be more responsive to his department’s desperate requirement for workplace placements for students in TVET colleges and universities of technology.
“Our targeted goal for the TVET sector is to work towards producing TVET graduates who are work-ready.
“To further promote skills development within the TVET sector, we have also entered into a joint initiative on promoting skills development with the German government,” he said.
Nzimande said this project would aid South Africa to build a modern, high quality and agile skills development system aligned with the country’s needs in the 21st century.
“Underpinning such skills development will be an apprenticeship-based TVET college system similar to the dual system in Germany.
“This project will see more of our youth absorbed into workplaces, while getting the requisite technical skills in a meaningful partnership between the post-school education and training system and industry.”