Vocational learning with Swiss precision


A partnership between South Africa and Switzerland will give Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college students the sought-after experience they need to do well in the workplace.

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the Swiss Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday launched the partnership, which will empower both students and lecturers from TVET colleges to help the country meet its skills development targets.

The programme, Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande said, will hinge on the following aspects:

Lecturers will be placed in Swiss companies for workplace exposure;
Industry experts from Swiss companies will be placed in the colleges (exchange);
Lecturers and experts from Switzerland will be placed in colleges in specifically nominated programmes;
Learners will be placed in the workplace for practical exposure;
Learners will undergo work integrated learning (WIL) in the organisations;
Curriculum enhancements will be made to the programme to ensure programmes are relevant for industry, and
Learners may be recruited by the organisations after the training for employment.

The programme was born out of an interaction between Minister Nzimande and the Swiss Chamber of Commerce, which expressed an interest in working with South African TVET colleges.

The two countries have long-standing diplomatic ties, and Minister Nzimande said the partnership presented invaluable opportunities for both countries.

“I am happy that our partner, The Swiss Chamber of Commerce, has proposed supporting our colleges in developing the highly skilled and qualified employees which they and other industrialists need.

“We really require and urge the whole private sector to follow in the footsteps of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce,” Minister Nzimande said in thanking Switzerland, a country well known for manufacturing products with great precision.

Localising benefits

Wednesday’s launch was held at Ekurhuleni West TVET College in Germiston.

The college and Westcol TVET College have been chosen for this project due to their location and their accessibility to most Swiss companies in Gauteng.

Minister Nzimande said depending on the project’s success, it may later be expanded outside Gauteng to rural and other colleges.

Two campuses from each of these colleges have been identified as participants in this project. These are Tembisa and Germiston, under Ekurhuleni West College, and Carltonville and Randfontein under Westcol.

The areas of focus for the skills enhancement programme, identified by the Swiss Chamber of Commerce, include: Information Technology; Mechanical and Electrical Engineering; Sales and Marketing; Office Administration; Accounting and Business Studies.

“It goes without saying that Ekurhuleni West and Westcol TVET collegeswill greatly benefit from this initiative. The participating Swiss companies will equally benefit.

“For example, at the end of the programme, Swiss companies will be provided with suitably qualified learners, who could be taken up for employment. Appropriately skilled employees are needed by industry. This programme will provide you with a pool to select from,” said Minister Nzimande.

TVET student enrolments increased by 131% from 345 566 in 2010. The department is targeting 800 000 students for this year. The 2030 enrolment targets are 1.62 million in public universities, 2.5 million in TVET colleges, one million in community colleges and 500 000 in private institutions.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) budget for 2014/15 amounts to R6 billion, comprising R3.9 billion set aside for universities and R2.1 billion for TVET college bursaries and loans.

This budget has grown from R578 million in 2005 to over R9 billion in 2014, taking into account all bursaries and loans administered by NSFAS from other government departments and entities. –