A Skills Partnership for Employment and Growth: From Current Engagement to Future Action

This EU Investment Month webinar focussed on the mismatch between the skills that South African educational institutions are producing and those which employers need.
Further education and training seeks to meet the skills needs of employers and improve the employability of job-seekers. However the quality of training in South Africa, and its responsiveness to the needs of the labour market, is uneven and graduates often struggle to find work. South Africa remains behind in many international rankings on education and training. Urgent action is required, but this should be informed by research and lessons learned. At least eight EU Member States (and Switzerland) as well as the EU Delegation  play an active role in improving the synergies between education and employment. In this webinar we will hear insights from their experience.
Framing the discussion, experts presented analysis from a recent CBPEP-supported study that tracked the destinations of graduates completing training in South African TVET colleges. The findings of the study confirm that employment outcomes for TVET college graduates vary across programmes and, while better overall than is generally assumed, leave significant room for improvement. These findings will help the Department of Higher Education to identify areas of weakness and to improve the quality and relevance of TVET programmes. By working with the Department to design and implement the study, and to process and analyse the results, this CBPEP-supported project has also helped to build the capacity of the Department to undertake further studies of this nature and to use the results to inform policy and planning.

Representatives from:
  • the Presidency
  • National Treasury
  • the Department of Higher Education and Training
  • the Sector Education and Training Authorities
  • EU diplomats
  • South African and European business
Highlights from introductory remarks by Riina Kionka, EU Ambassador to SA
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One of our strongest policy dialogues as part of the strategic partnership… takes place in the education sector between South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and the European Commission.

Ms Riina Kionka, EU Ambassador to South Africa
We hope to take this to a strategic level and ideally agree a set of concrete and collaborative measures to be taken to build effective pathways and support for work-based learning, work experience, and employment.

Ms Riina Kionka, EU Ambassador to South Africa
The EU’s ongoing cooperation with South Africa amounts to more than 6 billion Rand during the last 7-year period, and it currently focuses on employment creation, education, training and innovation, and building a capable and developmental state.

Ms Riina Kionka, EU Ambassador to South Africa
What was said:
Highlights from recovery and employment growth after COVID19 by Rudi Dicks, Presidency
Graduate, drop out and employment data
I think there’s a bigger and institutional challenge that is here and that is having to ensure that young people who move into technical vocational education and training institutions, at least in the theoretical component, have the capacity and the support required for industry.

Mr Rudi Dicks, Presidency
We need a stronger partnership with the private sector to get young people who finish the theoretical component to gain experience and to get into meaningful employment or to get into economic opportunities going forward.

Mr Rudi Dicks, Presidency
Setting South Africa on a path of recovery
“A lot of the gap that we have to make up comes in the form of vocational education. South Africa has a slightly misshapen contribution of post-school education and training in the form of disproportionate enrolment in higher education or university.”
the TVET colleges and youth employment

Highlights from findings and implications of a CBPEP-funded destination survey by Mike Rogan, head of the Neil Aggett Labour Studies Unit (NALSU), Rhodes University

We interviewed about 4,000 young people in 2019, and we interviewed them roughly 1.5 to 2 years after they completed some type of TVET education.

Prof Mike Rogan, NALSU Rhodes University
It’s important when looking at employment outcomes to bear in mind that discrimination and other gender disadvantages in the labour market are obviously an important part of the story as well.

Prof Mike Rogan, NALSU Rhodes University
There’s a lot more thinking to do about what type of learners are coming through the TVET system, whether they’re on their way, they’re on a journey to another type of qualification, particularly for those that are staying in the TVET sector.

Prof Mike Rogan, NALSU Rhodes University
Highlights from Best practice EU and international perspectives: role of employers, skills development and the labour market by Steven Bainbridge, CEDEFOP
What employers and people need increasingly are increasingly complex combinations of interpersonal, organizational, and problem-solving skills.

Steven Bainbridge, CEDEFOP
Rather than being the completion of learning, initial vocational education training, or even completion of higher education should be seen just as the start. And it is important that higher education and vocational education training encourage people to continuously renew and develop their abilities.

Steven Bainbridge, CEDEFOP
There’s a lot more thinking to do about what type of learners are coming through the TVET system, whether they’re on their way, they’re on a journey to another type of qualification, particularly for those that are staying in the TVET sector.

Prof Mike Rogan, Rhodes University
Setting South Africa on a path of recovery

What lessons can South Africa draw from Germany’s experience in strengthening linkages between educational institutions and the labour market? How can investors in South Africa better contribute to skills development in South Africa? Commentary by Martin Schäfer, Ambassador of Germany to South Africa

The TVET system, as it stands with the 800,000 South African boys and girls that are enrolled in it, does not satisfy fully the needs both of the learners and of the companies that would have to take on board those boys and girls after they have finished the TVET colleges.

Mr Martin Schäfer, Ambassador of Germany to South Africa
I believe the willingness of the employers and the people that need, or the companies that need to employ the learners afterwards to engage and to invest and not to consider people working in their companies as a cost factor, but as an investment.

Mr Martin Schäfer, Ambassador of Germany to South Africa
A Member State perspective

Highlights from an employer’s perspective: building competitiveness through education and training in South Africa by Markus Thill, Robert Bosch (Pty) Ltd

Our key issue is actually that we need to compete on the world stage. The business in South Africa is actually a productivity-adjusted costs. And so our productivity-adjusted cost is the number of parts or products that are produced per hour divided by the hourly wage. And unfortunately, despite the wages not being very high in general in South Africa, productivity-adjusted cost makes South Africa no longer a low-cost country.

Dr Markus Thill, Bosch
One thing which became very clear very quickly is that the graduate institutions have a very good engineering study program. However, they could be even more in contact with industry for training in kind of technical universities, a paradigm set of standard universities.

Dr Markus Thill, Bosch
A Business Perspective
The end goal is, in fact, that we would like, if possible, to arrive at an agreed framework for a systemic engagement and a skills partnership that will help us reshape our TVET system to better meet the needs not only of employers in the labour market but of young people and of workers, too.

Glen Fisher, CBPEP
“I think the research really gets us to a place where we have a much more nuanced and granular view of what’s actually happening within the sector, and how people are managing to navigate the opportunities that are available to them, and what needs to be put in place. Particularly the idea that we need lifelong learning and continuous development, and that the system needs to be developed in that way, and it needs to be built in that way. And I think we’re at a lucky moment as well within South Africa where there’s a real openness within government to using evidence to develop policies. “ says Fionnuala Gilsenan, Ambassador of Ireland to the Republic of South Africa
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