“Vocational careers should become viable options and FET colleges should become institutions of choice, instead of a perceived ‘second chance’ at study”, said SA minister of higher education and training, Blade Nzimande, when tabling the 2010 budget aimed at skills development.
Conceding difficulties faced by FET colleges, education authorities convened a round table of stakeholders in the sub system in April 2010, to assess measures of support for colleges to become an exclusive national competence with urgency.
FET colleges would have to address governance weaknesses, and develop action plans to ensure a smooth start of the 2011 academic year.
At the end of 2009, the National Skills Development Stragety, NSDS 2, was extended for another year, and Sectoral Education and Training Authorities, SETAs, were instructed to align their programmes to FET colleges.
A draft framework for a new strategy, NSDS 3, would be submitted to the National Skills Authority (NSA) in April, informed by the new SETA landscape to be adopted by the third quarter of 2010, after consultation with the skills authority, NSA.
Minister Nzimande reiterated the need to ‘move between learning and work’, facilitated by financial incentives from skills levy funds to encourage business and industry to “open structured workplace learning for college students as well as for university and technology students.”
R1.2-billion held back
Meanwhile the National Skills Fund holds R1.12bn in uncommitted funds, partly due to a recent transition in authority from the Department of Labour to the Department of Higher Education and Training.