Tuesday, 31 August 2021 20:51

Staff Reporter.

Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande. Photo: GCIS.

Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande says different departments are finalising their skills and innovation strategies to support government’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP).

"The Department of Higher Education and Training is finalising the Skills Strategy, whilst the Department of Science and Innovation is finalising the Innovation Strategy, "Nzimande said.

Nzimande said the Department of Higher Education and Training has generated the scarce, critical skills, and occupations in high demand lists to guide programme offerings and student enrolments in the Post School Education and Training (PSET) institutions.

While this work is underway, the Minister said targets are set for the placement of graduates in work places so that they are work-ready for easy absorption into the world of work, given that "the lack of work experience is often the barrier to securing gainful and permanent employment among young people".

He said that entrepreneurship hubs are being established at Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges to support students to move into self-employment after completing their programmes.

The Minister said both the universities and TVET Colleges curricula are strengthened to be relevant to skills required by the national economy and that of the world.

"This is to ensure that the PSET sector produces world class graduates who, more importantly, are able to participate and grow the South African local economy and help in the local job creation drive and the implementation of the ERRP.

"At various intervals our universities align their study programmes to these national priorities, whilst our TVET colleges are gradually aligning their programme offerings to the needs of local employers and communities, "Nzimande said.

The Minister noted that some of these changes are happening within current programme offerings, whilst many colleges are introducing new occupational offerings that are in demand within their specific local economic context.

"In addition, there has been an extensive review of much of the TVET curricula to make them relevant and keep them current, and this will continue for the next several years. The focus at the moment is on digital and related skills to meet job demands driven by the 4th Industrial Revolution," Nzimande said.

He added that the Department of Higher Education and Training also initiated different programmes aimed at encouraging young people to become artisans.

"In 2014 we launched the Decade of the Artisan at Ekurhuleni East TVET college which is a campaign that seeks to promote artisanship as a career of choice for South Africa’s youth as well as highlight skills development opportunities for artisans.

"This was aimed at developing qualified artisans to support the South African economy, particularly in light of the successful implementation of the Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SPIs). The theme of this campaign was “It’s cool to be a 21st century artisan," Nzimande highlighted.

In 2017, the department started with the establishment of Centres of Specialisation in more than 20 colleges focusing on 13 designated trades.

Centres of Specialisation in the TVET College sector is a programme which aims to inform college differentiation, promote quality teaching and learning, facilitate responsiveness and provide a model for the implementation of Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTOs) trade qualifications at the same time, as it develops artisanal skills.

In relation to artisan training, Nzimande said in the 2018/2019 financial year, the number of registrations was at 29 982. However, due to economic slowdown and COVID-19, the number dropped to 16 218 in 2019/2020 year and is expected to further drop in 2020/2021 year, due to the current pandemic.