SSACI will be the lead implementing agency in a college-improvement project launched
by Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, at a breakfast
function attended by businessmen and educationsists at Ekurhuleni West College on 16
April 2014.
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The National Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the Swiss Chamber
of Commerce (SwissCham), the representative body of Swiss businesses and their
associates in South Africa, have entered into a partnership with a mission to
improving the quality of teaching and learning in public technical and vocational
education and training (TVET) colleges aimed at making them ‘centres of excellence’ in
the national skills development landscape. The DHET-SwissCham partnership will be
implemented through SSACI.
 
The DHET, which has oversight of the national skills development system, is already
implementing a comprehensive strategy to bring all fifty public TVET colleges in line
with prescribed national norms and standards. In the longer term, it would like to
raise its colleges to a level comparable with the best anywhere. It recognises that,
to accomplish this goal, it will need to partner closely with industry and it is
looking for avenues through which to develop such partnerships. Swiss companies and
their subsidiaries in South Africa, for whom skills development is both a business
imperative and a point of pride, are well-placed to assist in this regard.
Over the next three years, SSACI will organize and manage a series of interventions by
SwissCham member companies in participating colleges that will:
•    Improve the standard of teaching and learning in the colleges’ programmes and
courses that relate to the companies’ business interests
•    Align those training programmes and courses more closely with industry
practice
•    Make students more employable
•    Develop mutually-beneficial partnerships between the participating college(s)
and companies
These interventions will include:
•    Coaching and in-house training courses for college management and teaching
staff
•    Staff exchanges between college and company
•    In-service training and mentoring for college staff by Swiss experts
•    Workplace-based experience for college students
•    Competitions and awards for students and lecturers  
The benefits to companies for partnering in these ways with local colleges include:
•    A future supply of technically skilled and workplace-ready staff
•    Points on the company’s BBBEE score-card
•    Potential tax breaks and SETA training grants
In his speech at the launch function, Min Nzimande reported that the Department of
Trade and Industry, which is the custodian of the BBBEE codes, is actively
collaborating with the DHET and SSACI on finding ways to maximize the scorecard
benefits to participating companies. The DTI wants to encourage companies to make
skills training the mainstay of their BBBEE strategy.