South Africa is in the process of reforming its apprenticeship system and has set itself a target of qualifying 24 000 new artisans by 2020 (DHET 2015). Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges are viewed as key vehicles through which large numbers of artisans can be trained. However, employers do not have trust in the quality and capacity of public TVET colleges and have taken responsibility for training artisans through their own in-house training facilities and private training providers (National Treasury n.d.). The result is that TVET colleges have been side-lined in the supply chain for artisan development.
It is against this background that the South African government is piloting a dual system apprenticeship project which aims to: a) improve the quality of artisan training at public TVET colleges; b) build employer trust in the quality of the public artisan training system; and c) position TVET education as an attractive option for young people.
A ‘dual apprenticeship’ is a system of learning in two sites, i.e. where apprentices rotate on a regular basis between a TVET college and industry. Employers sign on apprentices from a local Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college, who then become employees of the company and are subject to the employer’s terms and conditions of service.
Whilst different models and permeations exist in the way that the dual system is implemented, a common feature of the system is theory and practice are very closely integrated, immediately reinforcing one another and thereby promoting more thorough learning. It also includes that apprentices from an early stage are assigned meaningful work under real-life conditions. This fosters the development of their sense of responsibility and productive value.
Since 2014, SSACI has played a key role in assisting the South African government introduce a dual system apprenticeship model into the country which incorporates practical skills, underpinning knowledge and workplace experience in a single, integrated learning programme. It provides apprentices with the opportunity to obtain a trade test certificate and a vocational qualification simultaneously.
The first phase of this project began in 2014, when SSACI project managed three dual system implementation sites. The first in Port Elizabeth in the mechatronics trade, the second at the West Coast in the welding trade and the third in Randfontein in the vehicle body building trade. This project provided valuable learnings which informed the design of the next phase of the project. For further information on this project please click here
The second phase of the project began in 2016 with SSACI serving as the lead employer for a project aimed at training 100 electrical apprentices in four pilot sites through a dual system utilizing the newly registered occupational qualification for electricians. This project is currently underway and will be completed by August 2019.