Vocational training a viable alternative to Matric

Vocational training a viable alternative to Matric

Gideon Potgieter, CEO of Resolution Circle

This week saw the release of the Matric results. And just like every year, there has been controversy surrounding what many refer to as the pass rate versus the ‘real’ pass rate. But irrespective of that, South Africans may need to change their mindsets that getting your Grade 12 qualification and going on to university for a degree is the be-all and end-all of finding a job.

People tend to forget that having a Grade 9 allows a learner to continue their studies in post-school education and training that can be at a Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) college. In fact, overseas it is an accepted course of action with countries like Holland and Germany taking great pride in the skills gained at a TVET level. To the uninitiated, TVET focuses on artisanal skills such as mechanics, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, welders, hairdressers, and chefs. Furthermore, TVET also enables the learner to further their studies by opening more opportunities to gain additional qualifications.

So, why does the perception persist in the country that learners must matriculate, go to university for a degree, and then find a job? This is not an easy question to answer, but it can be attributed to how parents and the learners themselves are not fully aware of the potential of vocational training. Certainly, if the learner wants to go into a specialist field such as becoming an accountant, lawyer, doctor, engineer, and so on, this is the required course of action. But if the focus is not on attaining such a qualification, why go to university in the first place? Potentially, this can leave the student (or parents) with significant debt and a degree that they might not be able to get full value from.

In many developed economies, only a small percentage of the top learners go to university with the majority pursuing vocational training. The point is that learners do not have to spend two additional years in school if an internationally accepted alternative path is open to them.

Preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

More recently, the government has been pushing a technology-driven agenda to meet the needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Some might argue that this is heavily reliant on degreed students. And yet, the digital world requires more than just office workers.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) speaks of the concept of Design, Conceptualise, Implement, and Maintain. The first two focus on engineers while the latter two have technicians and artisans in mind. MIT proposes a 1:4:10 ratio between engineers, technicians, and artisans to make things work in the digital future.

Irrespective of how connected and technology-enabled society becomes, there will always be a need for artisans. The potential of automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning can only do so much. Human resources, especially those with technical and vocational skills will remain integral to how we live and work.

Additionally, learners at Grade 9 level already have sufficient knowledge to learn how to build and programme robots. Having the language skills in place to master grammar and spelling to code properly and a basic understanding of maths form the foundation of going into robotics and even the Internet of Things. Furthermore, there is a global shortage of draughtsmen. Following Grade 9, learners can go on a vocational path to get the qualifications for both these career choices that will be essential in the future.

Already, training providers have started developing short programmes and courses built around 4IR. Given how many of the jobs of the future do not exist yet, this provides learners with exciting opportunities to be at the forefront of innovation and go beyond many of the traditional options available to them.

And when compared to other countries when it comes to vocational training, South Africa performs better than middle income countries like Brazil and Turkey, according to the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Review.

Private sector importance

Refocusing on vocational training is not only the responsibility of parents, learners, and government. The private sector also has a critical role to play in this regard. Currently, the challenge for those doing vocational training is what happens after the theory is completed. Yes, students will receive a certificate but still lack vital job experience.

If these students want to go into formal apprenticeships to register as artisans, there are not that many opportunities available to them. More needs to be done to change this.

However, much of this comes down to securing the required corporate funding to give more students access to experiential training that is currently highly oversubscribed. From a business perspective, sponsoring these initiatives make sense. It assists corporates with their B-BBEE compliance and enable them to claim back a percentage of this expenditure against their skills development levy payments over the course of the financial year. These claims apply whether they send their own employees for upskilling, or if they sponsor learners with their workshop and experiential training programmes.

Examples of where new programmes have been launched include the YES4Youth programme that addresses the shortage of internships to a certain extent. This sees large corporates committing to taking on interns, but it is still limited given the number of students in the country. More companies need to come on board.

And then there is Harambee that offers an excellent programme for unemployed Grade 12s. It works with corporates to identify their needs when it comes to the skills required in the workplace. Harambee then matches this to its database of unemployed learners and provide them with training programmes to give them the skills to fill those holes in the private sector.

No matter how you look at it, this is not an easy problem to solve. Skills development must remain at the forefront of the government and corporate agenda. But what is vital is that parents and learners realise that there are options open to them other than only relying on Grade 12 and a university degree. The economic growth of the country depends on it.

Moses Kotane Skills Centre Upskill 2900 EPWP Beneficiaries

The Moses Kotane Skills Centre in association with The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and the Department of Infrastructure Development (DID), is proud to announce that 2 900 EPWP beneficiaries have received technical skills training since its inception in July 2018. The initiative aims to provide training to 3 200 participants in 2019.

The Moses Kotane Skills Centre, which was initiated by MEC Jacob Mamabolo from Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development, partnered with the University of Johannesburg and Resolution Circle, the implementation partner, to provide skills training across seven different tracks, namely: mechanical, electrical, automation, electronics, carpentry, building and fitting and turning.

“We are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4.0 IR) which will introduce new technologies and new opportunities the South African workforce,” said Corrie Smit, Project Manager at Resolution Circle. While there is uncertainty about how 4.0 IR will evolve, there is agreement that there is a need to understand these sophisticated technologies and train people with the necessary skills needed and to be ready for the workplace of the future.

As South Africa’s unemployment rate is at 27% it is critical that people gain job skill training and are empowered to become agile entrepreneurs that are responsive to their environment and able to solve real-world problems in their communities. As technology is at the core of 4.0 IR, additional training is provided to equip some participants with coding and programming skills to help them understand the internet of things (IoT) and automation.

“We aim to provide training that equips people to start work immediately and have been pleased to see that several of the participants that completed the training have helped to repair the ageing infrastructure at several schools across Gauteng,” added Smit. “This is a first step towards building the Gauteng cities of the future and improving the lives of both beneficiaries and residents across Gauteng.”

To find out more about the Moses Kotane Skills Centre or to learn more about this programme please contact:


Mr Wesley Jacobs Department of Infrastructure Development Wesley.Jacobs@gauteng.gov.za
Mr. Kgabo Sebina EPWP Programme Kgabo.Sebina@gauteng.gov.za
Mr Corrie Smit Resolution Circle (Pty) Ltd corries@resolutioncircle.co.za.www1.jnb2.host-h.net

Moses Kotane Skills Development Centre Celebrates First Graduates

Johannesburg, 26 March 2019: Today the Moses Kotane Skills Development Centre celebrated its first 1000 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) Beneficiary graduates at a certification ceremony held at University of Johannesburg (UJ) Doornfontein Campus. The graduates have completed vocational orientated technical or non- technical skills training according to their preference. In attendance at the ceremony was Mr Jacob Mamabolo, MEC for Infrastructure Development and Professor Marwala, UJ Vice-Chancellor.

The Moses Kotane Skills Centre was spearheaded by Mr Jacob Mamabola in 2018, to provide skills development training across various vocations in an effort to help alleviate unemployment and drive entrepreneurship across Gauteng. In support of this vision, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) signed a five-year memorandum of understanding which tasked Resolution Circle to build and operate the Moses Kotane Skills Centre.

“We are pleased to see so many people benefiting from Mr Mamabolo’s vision,” said Corrie Smit, Project Manager at Resolution Circle. “By helping the current cohort of EPWP beneficiaries gain well-needed technical and non-technical skills training, we are not equipping them with skills for jobs of the future, helping them to change their futures and improving the lives of residents across Gauteng.”

The graduates were trained at UJ’s Doornfontein campus while the DID Westhoven Depot is being repurposed into the Moses Kotane Skill Centre. The Moses Kotane Skills Centre aims to be ready to take on its first trainees in its new facilities from May 2019 where it will provide vocational training on the following tracks: mechanical, electrical, automation, electronics, carpentry, building and fitting and turning.

The Moses Kotane Skills Development Centre aims to train 3 200 participants in 2019.

To find out more about the Moses Kotane Skills Centre or to learn more about this programme please contact:

Mr Wesley Jacobs Department of Infrastructure Development Wesley.Jacobs@gauteng.gov.za
Mr. Kgabo Sebina EPWP Programme Kgabo.Sebina@gauteng.gov.za
Mr Corrie Smit Resolution Circle (Pty) Ltd corries@resolutioncircle.co.za.www1.jnb2.host-h.net

The future of engineering is female

“Only 11% of all engineers globally are females. And women are still totally under-represented in the engineering industry with the number of female engineering graduates below 20% in many countries.” This is according to Naadiya Moosajee, the co-founder of WomEng, a South African social enterprise that is now operating in at least 13 countries.

As a training hub, the question of how we prepare females for a male-dominated industry is one that is rarely spoken about. Now that it has come up, here is one way to look at it: yes, we have females that play soccer, but, they don’t play on the same team as men. Therefore, how do we prepare the women we train to play on the same team as men?

We sat down with Phemeza Bukeka, an electrical engineer by education, and P2 alumni at Resolution Circle. Phumeza is due to obtain her Electrical engineering diploma from the Vaal University of Technology soon. Standing tall in her PPE and safety boots, she declared that, although she is yet to enter the industry as a qualified technician, she is happy that more and more women are thriving in engineering.

It is an unspoken rule at Resolution Circle, that everyone who is accepted into the experiential learning programme is treated as a technician and is expected to behave as one. Therefore, everyone on our workplace readiness programme is exposed to six trades (fitting and turning, carpentry, electrical, electronics, automation and boiler making), where they learn basic hand tooling for the first six months and application for another six months.

But, we do live in a country that has clearly defined gender roles. During her interview on a TV show called iSpani, Keneilwe Ntwagae – an Electrical engineering graduate at Vaal Tech and a junior technician at Resolution Circle, talked about being a woman in the engineering industry, she said: “of all the trades I have learnt during my training with Resolution Circle, boiler making was out of my comfort zone.  It is something I never thought I would do and we thought it is for men, but women can do it too”.

Phumeza detailed that working with men is no different from working with women, she said – “during our training, we were never overlooked just because we are women”. Boiler making and welding workshop training instructor – Winston Lawrence also encourages women to explore careers in the engineering sector and emphasises that there are no restrictions whatsoever in the industry.

As Women’s month comes to an end, we at Resolution Circle would like to take a moment to celebrate the women who don safety boots and PPEs to design, develop, test and supervise electrical systems and mechanical and thermal sensors and devices.

Learn more about our workplace readiness workshop training programme and experiential training, head on over to our website: https://resolutioncircle.co.za.www1.jnb2.host-h.net/