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How Covid-19 has affected skills development in SA

Published Nov 12, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - About 35 percent of the workforce in the Skills Development and training sector were facing a future where they might lose their jobs due to automation.

However, the threat has now been amplified by the Coronavirus pandemic, forcing the sector to relook at the key drivers of change and skills of the future.

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For the learners’ practical elements of the learnership programme, the effects of Covid-19 have been slightly trickier, says Melissa van Aswegan, Operations – Education and Training Quality Assurance (ETQA) Manager for Skills Development Corporation (SDC).

“70% of our programme is based on practical, in-situ learning and with limited spaces governed by social distancing, this has had an impact,” she said.

Although there has been no news from SETA how they plan to implement and host the physical part of learnership programmes.

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Zukile Mvalo, Deputy Director-General Department of Higher Education & Training said: "We are prioritising the need to identify in-demand occupations that require a skilled workforce the most, ultimately creating linkages between skills development and the workplace succinctly and therefore creating more opportunities for young people to find employment.”

Meanwhile, the SDC has already set wheels in motion to be able to facilitate as much of the practical applications within their stable of skills development divisions that have been designed to future-proof the South African youth.

“At this stage we have placed some learners in our fully-functional call centre and we facilitate practical learnerships across the SDC Wealth side of the business that operates as an independent financial services business,” said Aswegan.

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According to SDC, the more pressure will be put on businesses to facilitate on-site practical learning locations, so finding a partner that has or is already taking significant steps in setting these plans in motion, will be how they lead the charge in the evolution of a post Covid-19 learnership environment.

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