In January 2016, SSACI was commissioned by Tshikululu Social Investments (TSI), in its capacity as the agent of the FirstRand Foundation (FRF) and the FirstRand Empowerment Foundation (FREF), to conduct an analytical review of South Africa’s national skills development system, consider the role of a high-quality skills development system in a dynamic economy and answer the question: “How can we grow high-level skills and increase the number of employable and entrepreneurial people our country needs to compete?”
The primary objective of the proposed research is to provide an in-depth analysis of the post-school technical and vocational education and training sector in order to inform decisions by the trustees of FRF and FREF on whether and how these foundations should direct resources towards the improvement of the system.
To this end, the research will:
• Describe the current scope, organisation and functioning of the skills development system in South Africa, and salient problems and issues impeding the effective operation of the system
• Provide practical, evidence-based advice on where, how and by whom interventions can be made towards the improvement of the national TVET system
• Identify specific ‘leverage points’ through which TSI, the FRF and the FREF could use their resources and expertise to effect a positive and sustainable impact on the system, and make clear recommendations on the advisability and practicability of such investments
Approach and Methodology
This research will have two principal components:
1. A review of recent literature on the national TVET system in SA, with particular reference to the objectives listed above. It is important to note that there is a great body of both research-based and practice-based reports on education and training in this country. From these a high degree of consensus has emerged amongst thought-leaders on the critical issues facing the national skills development system and – to a lesser extent – what can be done about them. What is required now is a meta-analysis of the research literature that distils from it, firstly, critical lessons for systemic improvement and, secondly, a practical guide for intervention and support initiatives.
2. Structured interviews with key respondents in the field of TVET in SA - including representatives of the national Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), TVET and higher education institutions, SETAS, private training-service providers, industry, organised labour and NGOs – aimed at verifying and refining the findings, conclusions and recommendations arrived at from the literature review.
The above two components will culminate in a report that describes the system and analyses salient issues affecting it. The report will cover, inter alia:
• The boundaries of the system
• The key government departments and their roles
• The legislative context and its effect on skills development
• Funding sources, amounts and targeting
• Challenges in the system and their root causes
• Lessons from local and international experience to date
• Key stakeholders and their roles
• The role of technology
• Mainstreaming the disabled learner
• Recommendations to the FRF and FREF
The final report is due by June 2016.