Skills Demands And The Role Of TVETs - Business Media MAGS

Sunday Times Skills

Skills Demands And The Role Of TVETs

How equipped are higher education institutions to deal with the modern economy? By Denise Mhlanga.

Skills development is a key driver for upskilling the workforce to keep pace with continuous technological advancements, and to address the urgent need for job creation and the inequalities in the workplace, says Louis Van Huyssteen, Retail Motor Industry (RMI) national training director.

Van Huyssteen says there is a huge need to address the skills crisis by strengthening and building more Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and shifting the focus toward more vocational and technical education, especially in the automotive sector.

 “We need to encourage new entrants into the sector and equip them with the right skills so we can see increased productivity and professional standards,” he says.

To help develop skills in the workplace, the South African government created the Skills Development Act in 1998, which incentivises employers to provide essential skills training to employees who lack skills in their chosen fields of work. The Department of Higher Education and Training is responsible for managing and developing all higher education and skills development training.

With receptive training institutions, Van Huyssteen believes skills shortages can be overcome. For example, in the case of the automotive sector, these institutions should use data systems to train apprentices on fault finding and repair to meet the curriculum requirements of the occupational certificate qualifications.

He says the College of Cape Town has introduced this as well as automotive motor mechanic and online learning that provides for both knowledge and simulated practical course modules.

Zuko Mdwaba, area vice president for Salesforce South Africa, says businesses are critical in job creation and skills development. “Companies must cultivate a culture of continuous learning and investing in soft skills to solve complex problems, challenge the status quo, and engender a shared sense of purpose.”

He says Salesforce offers Trailhead, a free online platform for job seekers with an internet connection.

Trailhead features bite-sized, conversational information that seeks to make complicated topics simple to understand.

IT varsity is an online technology training service provider offering short programmes, digital skills certificates, coding, App design and entrepreneurship training, among other courses. The varsity can provide solutions to skills development, says Johanita Serfontein, chief organisational officer at IT varsity.

For example, she says, many nongovernmental organisations have funding, but lack in-house skills, digital training skills, and entrepreneurship and leadership development for the youth. “We are ready to partner with such organisations, and currently have several partnerships to help organisations with the technical training to their staff,”  she explains.

 COVID-19 and skills shortage

Mdwaba says the pandemic has compounded the already substantial skills gap and inequalities. Businesses must prioritise reskilling to adapt to technology and address skill mismatches for an inclusive economy.

Tilly Reddy, deputy principal for Academic Services at The College of Cape Town, says the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted learning, with TVET colleges being the worst affected due to their reliance on face-to-face learning.

“The pandemic propelled TVET colleges to adopt technological resources with the ability to develop effective, engaging learning material and assessments for students in and out of the classroom,” she says, adding that The College of Cape Town has been very agile in its response.

Van Huyssteen says TVET lecturer development is an ongoing process, adding that RMI promotes collaboration between TVET colleges and industry partners to ensure quality training to apprentices and reduce the gap between the training provided at TVET colleges in the motor mechanic trade and the real-time skills needs in the private sector.

Stephen van der Heijden, vice president of Growth at OfferZen, a community-first job marketplace that helps companies accelerate their developer hiring, says even before the pandemic, software developers with specific skills and languages were in short supply in South Africa.

“The pandemic saw more companies shift to digital products and services, and remote work, creating a bigger demand for software developers,” he says. Full-stack developers are currently in high demand, and there is an increase in boot camps to bridge the skills gaps in the tech sector.


Tilly Reddy

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