As a Learning Specialist, my heart bleeds every time I hear of a young person spending their parent’s hard-earned money to register for some course at one of those dodgy colleges based in the CBD of Johannesburg or in any of the major cities of South Africa. These flight-by-nights who are not accredited by the Council of Higher Education (CHE) or any of the relevant accreditation bodies have stolen people’s dreams and shattered the hopes of countless, gullible young people.
Why is it more attractive for young people to study at these institutions instead of Further Education & Training (FET) colleges which are a reputable alternative to Universities and Universities of Technology? In my view the answer lies in the madness that happened around 2003 when suddenly Apprenticeships were regarded as “uncool”.
I can still remember the day vividly when I was a delegate at the National Skills Development Conference on 14 October 2003 where the then Minister of Labour, Minister Membathisi Mdladlana presented his opening address at the conference. After erupting in an emotive rendition of the song “Kubi, kubi kubi, siyaya, siyaya, siyaya ePitori” or is it Polokwane or Mangaung, he then proceeded to re-assure delegates that the Apprenticeship system is neither being abolished nor being marginalised in favour of the new buzz word of that time; Learnerships. This re-assurance was however too late because in the many factories across the country, a perception had been created by some that Learnerships were in fact here to replace Apprenticeships.
I know a lot of unemployed people who studied in the colleges I have mentioned above but I have to admit I don’t know any unemployed Artisan. In my circle of friends, associates and business colleagues none of the people who were trade-tested with a “red-seal” as it is known in some circles, is unemployed. The unemployment levels in South Africa would be drastically reduced if more young people would consider being Artisans. In fact Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande’s plans to review FET colleges is welcome and long overdue. Artisan training is a major component of the strategy to reduce unemployment from the current 25% to around 15%.
So young people as you are considering your plans for 2013, please consider getting a Trade, it is cool.
Become an Artisan and forget about all those dodgy colleges in the CBD.