The government is currently working on a programme to ensure that education and training programmes are directly linked to the jobs needed in South Africa, says president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Speaking at a University of Johannesburg event this week, Ramaphosa said that a major constraint on growth and employment in the country is the relatively low skills levels in the country and the inadequate outcomes of the education system.
“The resultant skills gap is also a significant contributor to inequality and undermines efforts to end the inter-generational cycle of poverty. The only sustainable way to bridge the skills gap is to dramatically improve the performance of all levels of our education system.
“Among other things, this means ensuring that there is a firm link between the skills and competencies being produced and those required in the economy. We have initiated several programmes to link training to workplace experience and employment.”
Ramaphosa said the jobs shift will see the Department of Higher Education and Training placing 10,000 unemployed TVET graduates in workplaces from April 2022.
He added that a new ‘Digital Work Accelerator’ is being introduced as a coordinated public-private initiative to enhance digital skills and create digital jobs.
“To ensure that skills training is linked directly to the demand in the economy, we are pioneering a fundamentally different approach to skills development for unemployed youth. This approach links payment for training provided to the placement of candidates in a job opportunity.”
The German system
Higher Education and Training minister Blade Nzimande has previously indicated that government plans to follow the ‘German system’ for training workers in the country
Speaking during his department’s 2021 budget vote, Nzimande said that the initiative will help South Africa build a system aligned with its needs in the 21st century.
“Underpinning such skills development will be an apprenticeship based TVET college system similar to the dual system in Germany,” he said.
“This project will see more of our youth absorbed into workplaces, while getting the requisite technical skills, in a meaningful partnership between the PSET system and industry.”
He added that the skills strategy will create a balance between the short- and long-term skills needs of the country and ensure that the skills system is strengthened with its implementation.
“This strategy will target groups that are seeking employment; those who are employed and require upskilling/reskilling programmes and those who will be selecting careers in occupations where there are skills shortages.”
A number of other countries are also looking at copying the country’s dual education system where more than half of German students enter dual vocational and educational training programs (VET) as a route into employment.
Students have the option to choose from 326 professional trades that include diamond cutters, aircraft mechanics and even chimney sweeps.
Apprenticeships are standardised across the country — every product designer must study the same textbooks and be familiar with the same design tools — so employment prospects do not vary greatly by college or company. Most join their training company after three years of low-paid work and study.