Cape Town - As Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges prepare for prospective students, the issue of unemployed graduates looms large.
This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced at his sixth state of the nation address that the Department of Higher Education and Training plans on placing 10 000 unemployed TVET graduates in workplaces from April 2022.
While the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) Provincial Secretary, Mphumzi Giwu, welcomed this, he said that urgent implementation was needed.
"We welcome the move by the Department of Higher Education and Training. However, we do feel that the government should emphasise the importance of Grade 12s applying at TVET colleges as well, (and) if they don't get any space into universities, there is nothing wrong with TVET colleges."
"As part of tackling youth unemployment, young people need to be assisted through funding of their businesses, job creation, and opportunities in both the public and private sector. Graduates need to be given a guarantee of employment before finishing their studies in the form of guaranteed internship programs, which lead to employment," said Giwu.
Following the release of the gazetted critical skills list that outlines the qualifications and skills shortages that are critical to the growth of the economy, the Director of the Institute for Post-School Studies at the University of Western Cape, Prof Joy Papier, said that training institutions need to streamline courses that will act as a pipeline from school to employment.
"It is ideal, of course, that studies and courses must align perfectly with job skill sets. Young people need a strong foundation in a broader set of skills that will enable them to make pragmatic study and career choices, and then there has to be learning on and in a job, in order to align the training that has been done with the requirements of the job."
"The critical skills list gives some indication of the kinds of industries where well trained people will be needed, which may be helpful for institutions to focus their training programmes and guide students appropriately," said Papier.
With the College of Cape Town seeing 5 053 registered students for the year, Deputy Principal Achmat Gafieldien said the biggest challenge is the misconception of how TVET qualifications contribute to the critical skills needed in the country.
"The critical job skill set requires holistically developed individuals with both soft and hard skills. Relevant new skills are required to improve career prospects, income, or professional status, and soft skills have become an in-demand skill set that includes good communication, listening, attention to detail, critical thinking, empathy, and conflict resolution abilities, among other skills. "
"With that being said, the college offers the MoT program to all our entry-level students and Passport to Success to our exit level students to prepare them for the world of work. Our institution is committed to ensuring the holistic development of our students, enabling them to enter the labour market as well as become successful entrepreneurs," said Gafieldien.
Earlier this week, during a media engagement at one of the college's campuses in Thornton, Deputy Minister Buti Manamela mentioned that, seeing the progress that had been made so far, the department plans on taking the TVET sector forward and multiplying all the gains experienced, for the future.
"What we are seeing now is more young people trained as plumbers, brick layers, technicians, and chefs, contributing to the growth and development of the economy."
"Therefore, we sought to expose the public to some of the programmes that are being offered at TVET colleges, engage and urge industry to collaborate with TVET colleges for placements, and allow industry to render expert advice on how to structure the curriculum that will enable students to be recruited after graduation," said Manamela.