SSACI Writes National Policy Framework

In November 2012, the national Department of Higher Education and Training commissioned SSACI to write a policy framework for all public technical and vocational education and training colleges on work-integrated learning.   

Work-integrated learning (WIL) is an umbrella term for skills training that integrates theoretical knowledge with authentic practice in the workplace. The purpose of WIL is to improve employability and develop competence, i.e. the ability to apply knowledge and skills to the demands of the workplace. Internationally, WIL is used as a core strategy for technical, vocational, occupational and professional education and training.

This department had long been moving towards the systemic implementation of WIL in public colleges, as expressed by the important policy statement in its 2014 White Paper for Higher Education and Training that:
 “The aim of the government is to improve the amount and quality of workplace-training in South Africa…  Workplace training and work-integrated learning (WIL) must be a central part of our training system… Work-integrated learning (WIL) should be a central component of the college programmes.”

To assist colleges with the practicalities of incorporating WIL into their curricula, the department decided to develop guidelines based on based practice. SSACI’s extensive experience of implementing workplace-based experience for college students and lecturers made it the ideal agency to undertake this task. Since 2008, SSACI has rolled out its model of workplace-based experience in all but two of the fifty public colleges. Moreover, since January 2012, all public colleges have been required by the Department of Higher Education and Training to implement SSACI’s model of WBE, or something similar, as part of their core curricula.

In December 2013, after an extensive process of research, drafting, peer-review and revision, SSACI handed the final version of the WIL policy framework over to the department. It sets out guidelines for the workplace-based component of the core programmes in public TVET colleges, covering such aspects as:
•    the place of WIL within college programmes
•    definitions of key concepts
•    regulations governing WIL in TVET colleges
•    guiding principles for implementing WIL in college programmes
•    a four-phase process for implementing WIL
•    key issues to be managed
•    roles and responsibilities in the implementation of WIL by colleges
•    funding WIL within college programmes

The framework was developed primarily for public TVET colleges but is also of relevance to private training-service providers, employers and Sector Education and Training Authorities. It is evidence both of the confidence that the department has in SSACI’s expertise and the impact that SSACI has on the evolution of the national skills-development system.