INVESTMENT IN SKILLS DEVELOPMENT KEY TO SUCCESS OF SOUTH AFRICA’S ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION

JOHANNESBURG, The planned radical economic transformation of South Africa will not be realised without investment in skills development, says Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, who adds that the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges which are key in producing skilled workers to help grow the economy are extremely under-funded.

Speaking at the South African College Principals Organization's conference in Kempton Park, about 27 kilometres east of here, Tuesday, he said the constant reshuffling of finance ministers had also frustrated his efforts to get more funding for TVET colleges from the National Treasury.

Nzimande said funding for TVET colleges currently stood at 54 per cent, down from 80 per cent, and that this did not bode well for producing much-needed skills to grow and transform the economy.

You cannot transform any economy without provision of skills, especially in South Africa, where we need mid-level skills, most of which are being offered at college level. For artisans, the training is done by the colleges and industry. For instance, Government has a programme of creating black industrialists; you can't do that without skills provision at all levels but especially your mid-level skills. That's why I'm saying TVET colleges are very central in every project of transformation.

He said he had been trying to get more funding for TVET colleges from the Treasury, but the constant reshuffling of finance ministers had hampered those efforts.

Just as (for Finance) Minister Pravin Gordhan began to understand, because I lobby a lot, then there was Minister (Nhlanhla) Nene and just as Minister Nene was beginning to understand the story I was telling him, he got reshuffled and Minister Gordhan came back and I said, 'Fine, now that you're back we were really talking business'; now he's gone. unfortunately. Now I've got to start again with Minister (Malusi) Gigaba to tell him that these colleges are important.

Delegates at the South African College Principals Organization's conference engaged the minister on some of the challenges facing the sector, including poor infrastructure, insufficient funding, as well as lack of continuous training for lecturers.

The conference is expected to come up with recommendations on improving learning and teaching at colleges.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK