Improving Work Opportunities: I-Work Workshop

Improving Work Opportunities: I-Work Workshop

The British Council in South Africa recently held a national workshop as part their Improving Work Opportunities – Relaying Knowledge (I-Work) project.

The purpose of the workshop was to share knowledge in order to promote employer-led skills development initiatives. Such initiatives will increase work opportunities for young people. The knowledge sharing could influence both policies and practices.

The workshop brought together a number of key role players in the apprenticeship system to share knowledge and experiences in implementing apprenticeships in South Africa. Representatives included government and SETA officials, college staff and representatives from labour and business.

The I-Work project has two strands. The partnership strand ” connects training providers in five Commonwealth countries – the UK, Ghana, South Africa, India and Malaysia – in partnership clusters to develop innovative, inclusive and employer-led education approaches that equip students to take their place in the future job market.”

Six South African public TVET colleges reported back on their year long journey to develop partnerships. As part of the programme they had visited colleges in the UK as well as interacted with counterparts in three other countries, namely Ghana, India and Malaysia. One of the colleges planned to set up an industry advisory committee at the college. This concept drew a lot of interest and may well be followed by other colleges.

Developing strong partnerships is also one of the key focus areas in our WorkFit Toolkit. Partnerships are key in creating sustainable pathways between education and the world of work.

The second strand is apprenticeships. As part of this strand the British Council launched an Overview of the Apprenticeship System in South Africa written by Dr Florus Prinsloo. The publication briefly covers the history of apprenticeship in South Africa, current policies and strategies, some case studies and international perspectives.

Dr Prinsloo also reported back on the outcomes of a benchmarking exercise carried out amongst the commonwealth countries mentioned above. The focus of the benchmarking was on how well apprenticeships were supported in by regulations, policies and support systems. South Africa came out very well in terms of these benchmarks. But workshop attendees felt that the real challenge lies in implementation, of shifting from the legacy trades and the N-course requirements to the new requirements where colleges provide both knowledge and practical skills.

Dr Prinsloo also reported on an e-learning tool which had been developed with the support of the British Council to allow role players to test their own understanding of the apprenticeship system in South Africa. Several people who thought they were quite familiar with the apprenticeship system commented that there were certain questions where they were uncertain and they had learned something.

As part of the final morning, apprentices from the various colleges were introduced to the audiences. These are from colleges which are running the new occupational qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework . They form part of the DHET’s Centres of Specialisation project. This project has equipped up-to-date workshops in 26 campuses around the country.

Chris Vorwerk

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