The resurgence of violent #FeesMustFall protests in 2016, following the Minister of Higher Education’s announcement of an 8% university fee increase for 2017, has created concern amongst matriculants about their studies next year. Tony Keal, Group Skills Facilitator, at the Master Builders Association of the Western Cape (MBAWC), suggests that they further their education through vocational training.
He explains: “Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges have been spared the upheaval that other institutions of higher learning have experienced. Furthermore, they are 80% subsidised by the government, meaning that the fees are affordable. There is a worldwide demand for the kinds of skills taught at these colleges and in some countries, tradespeople like electricians and plumbers earn more than doctors and lawyers.”
The MBAWC has offered apprenticeship programmes for the past 12 years, giving those with Grade 9 and above the opportunity to build on their academic foundations and establish a vocational career. Not only does the organisation fund their training and place them with members in order to put their theoretical knowledge into practice, it also pays them a wage as determined by the Building Industry Collective agreement. Apprentices are generally placed with member companies to get the on-site practical training required to complete their apprenticeship contract.
In addition, the Association has embarked on the training of supervisory staff due to the decline of this category of employee over the past 20 years. Candidates are carefully selected and ideally should have a Grade 12 certificate. They are then entered into a training program which exposes them to all facets of building work. The candidates are placed with MBAWC member companies to gain on-site practical experience and at the end of their training period, qualify for an NQF Level 4 South African Qualifications Authority approved certificate in site supervisory practices. The MBAWC pays all training costs and monitors their progress on a monthly basis. The success of this program can be seen in a number of people who have completed the program and are currently working for membercompanies.
The MBAWC has also established a Skills and Education Trust in order to upskill employees currently working in the building industry with nationally registered qualifications. This Trust funds short courses and various other training programs.
“Those who opt for vocational training are able to attain nationally recognised qualifications that will enable them to find employment nationally,” concludes Keal.