One of the biggest challenges we face in education across the country, and also in the Western Cape, is the number of youth dropping out of school before completing matric. The reasons are varied, but we usually see this happening in Grade 9, or when a learner reaches the age of 15, whereby they are no longer legally required to attend school.
Many learners do not complete Grade 9, which is a requirement for admission into a TVET college. They are then left without any formal qualification and their opportunities in life are severely limited.
The WCED has gone to great lengths to help learners who are failing at a young age and we are continually applying our minds to ways in which we can assist learners who cannot or who do not wish to, complete a formal academic curriculum in our public schools, but wish to study further in other fields.
In 2013, the WCED introduced a pilot project called the Youth Focus Project (YFP) to enhance learner support in Grade 9.
The intention of this project is to target Grade 9 repeat failures and provide them with skills, with the assistance of the TVET Colleges, Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and Adult Education and Training (AET) Centres.
The project aims to provide a twelve month funded bridging programme which culminates in an occupation orientated qualification at TVET Colleges or a skills programme for learners wanting to take this option.
To date, the WCED has matched 2 000 Grade 9 learners to TVET colleges across the province.
The Wholesale and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority (W&RSETA) is a valuable partner to the Youth Focus Project of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).
In 2015 and 2016 W&RSETA contributed R22 million towards the Youth Focus Project that aims to assist 480 NEET (Youth Not in Education, Employment, or Training), who have completed a bridging programme funded by the WCED, to achieve a National Certificate: Wholesale and Retail Operations. Over and above this investment, the W&RSETA also funded the establishment of retail training centres at participating colleges to assist with the training and improvement of skills of the students selected for the wholesale and retail learnership programmes. They also fostered relationships with business to host these learners for the duration of these programmes and to further support the TVET’s by establishing retail simulations centres and implementing lecturer capacitation sessions.
For the 2016/17 FY, the WCED allocated R49 .056 million towards this programme.
As a Government we are committed to providing opportunities for our Youth and such are partnering with various organisations to increase access to skills development programmes and training; especially critical skills needed for the growth of our economy but we cannot do this alone. This is why Partnerships such as this are an example of an effective public- private initiative driven by a desire to find lasting solutions to this issue.
Northlink College got involved with the Youth Focus Project in 2013, offering the Wholesale and Retail level 1 programme to 90 learners. These learners went on to complete an Assistant Chef course at Northlink, a W&R Level 2 Programme at Boland College and Competency Base Modular Training (Engineering studies) at Northlink College. I would also like to thank Northlink for their commitment to improving opportunities for our youth.
60 students are currently doing a Wholesale and Retail Level 3 programme at Northlink and Boland College also funded by W&RSETA. These students have successfully progressed through the college system during the last three years.
I am very encouraged by this Project, which will lead to an alternative education development programme for over-age learners in the school system. This project is aimed at turning a problem into an opportunity for youth to receive training in priority and scarce artisan skills.
The Youth Focus Project is expected to provide scarce skills within industrial sectors, and to lessen poverty and unemployment, as reflected in the Industrial Policy Action Plan. The fact that the targeted youths will be first-time entrants into the job market also brings the project under the ambit of National Skills Development Strategy. The project aims to provide participating youth with a viable occupational qualification that will allow them to find decent employment and continue on a journey of lifelong learning.
It is a bold initiative by the WCED to fast-track learners not progressing in the schooling system onto a career path.
Education is the key to creating opportunities and changing lives. It is the key to improving ones living standards and the economy as a whole.
Cell: 076 175 0663
Email: [email protected]