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Workplace-Based Experience

Since 2008, SSACI has been working to improve the quality, relevance and effectiveness of training at public TVET colleges, improve the standard of teaching and learning at the colleges and develop their partnerships with industry through workplace-based experience (WBE) for students and industry-based work-integrated learning (WIL) for lecturers (see under TVET College Lecturer Development). This cluster of related interventions is illustrated in the diagram.

WBEICASS.png

The first step, commencing in 2008, was to get colleges to place students during their studies into industry for short periods of exposure and, later, work experience. This is called ‘on-course WBE’. It is now implemented to a greater or lesser degree in 13 National Certificate (Vocational) programmes in all 50 public TVET colleges.

 

The benefits of WBE for students have been well researched. They include:

• Clarifying career aspirations • Improving academic and practical learning

• Developing vocational competence • Improving prospects of employment after completion of studies

WBE also has two important benefits for the colleges. It:

• Exerts a powerful, positive ‘washback’ effect on college curricula

• Promotes meaningful college-industry partnerships

And WBE benefits employers as well, by:

• Giving them influence over what is being taught in the college

• Allowing them to ‘cherry-pick’ prospective new employees

• Reducing the induction and orientation costs of those employees when they start work in the company (they are already ‘house-trained’)

The growth of SSACI’s WBE programme in colleges is illustrated in the following diagram:

 

The WBE programme was enhanced from 2012 onwards with the assessment of students’ performance in the workplace, which counts towards their final marks as part of the integrated continuous assessment (ICASS) of student performance. In SSACI-speak, this is called ‘Assessed WBE’. In 2015, it was implemented in at least one of the 13 NC(V) programmes in 41 of the 50 public TVET colleges. The growth in participation in assessed WBE is shown in the following diagram:

From 2013 onwards, SSACI stepped into the space of lecturer development with a system for placing lecturers into industry in order to update them on current technology, systems and work processes within the industry for which they are training students. This is called ‘work-integrated learning for lecturers’ (WILL). Over 400 lecturers at 28 public TVET colleges are currently participating in the WILL project.

If lecturers go into industry for any length of time, it leaves a gap in the teaching faculty that must be filled. SSACI’s idea is to bring in an industry expert to teach students during that time. Moreover, we would like to see experts coming in even when no lecturer is away in order to supplement the ordinary lectures, help with the assessment of students, and run seminars and workshops for the lecturers themselves. This is called ‘guest lecturing’, which SSACI has been promoting in colleges since 2016.

Outputs, outcomes and impact

The growth in the numbers of college students and lecturers undertaking some form of workplace-based experience or learning is shown in the previous graphs. All 50 public TVET colleges now offer workplace-based experience to their students through the system developed by SSACI. SSACI has developed a comprehensive set of materials to help colleges, employers and lecturers in this regard.

Many of the lessons learned through SSACI’s WBE and WIL programmes have been incorporated into DHET national policy documents, such as the “Policy Framework for Workplace-based Learning in the South African Post-School Education and Training System” and “A Practical Guide to Implementing Work-Integrated Learning in TVET Colleges” (which was written by SSACI). Almost all the documents and materials currently being used by colleges to implement WBE and WILL in colleges were either written by SSACI or derived from templates provided by SSACI. Thus, WBE is becoming an integral part of the curriculum and of the DHET’s planning, monitoring and evaluation systems for colleges.

EWC Students at Emperors Palace