TVET Colleges enhancing youth employability in local communities (Kedibone Boka and Benita Reddi)
JET Education Services has been managing the implementation of the School Infrastructure and Youth Employment Creation Project (SIYECP) funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) through the National Skills Fund. The programme started in 2012 and aims to provide youth in rural communities in two provinces with an integrated package of appropriate work-related construction, life, and business skills. The programme, designed to increase the employability and income generating capabilities of youth, also sought to improve the capacity of public Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges to provide vocational learning pathways for young school leavers, and to engage with workplaces that would absorb them. An anticipated spin-off was the positive contribution to infrastructure development in rural communities.
JET provided management and operational support to TVET Colleges which provided theoretical and practical training in construction skills, followed by work exposure and youth livelihood training. The programme culminated in the placement of participants on construction sites such as school buildings in communities surrounding the colleges.
The project was delivered to 190 youth by three TVET Colleges: Orbit (Brits, North West); Ikhala (Queenstown, Eastern Cape); and King Hintsa (Butterworth, Eastern Cape). SIYECP has been successful in equipping rural youth with skills relevant to the developments taking place in their communities. It further provided youth with opportunities to earn a stipend, put their skills into practice on construction sites, and gain workplace experience. An illustration of the programme’s success is the King Hintsa cohort of learners who participated in the construction of seven schools in the Amathole municipality.
The project has empowered TVET Colleges about the challenges of placing and managing learners in the workplace. Challenges include the colleges’ lack of human resource capacity to monitor students on construction sites, and the difficulty construction supervisors faced in managing programme participants over whom they had little authority. With regard to programme management, the need for dedicated, meticulous, and hands-on project management in complex projects was confirmed. Monitoring and evaluation was integral to holding all stakeholders accountable and providing project implementers with an opportunity to review and track progress in relation to the project’s objectives.
The significance of the SIYECP programme is that it demonstrates the emergence of a model of sustainable youth development involving livelihoods training, skills development, income generation, and community benefit. TVET Colleges involved in the project obtained a much better understanding of the concept of integrated training, which will provide them with the skills required in the world of work.
Kedibone Boka holds a M.Ed. Degree, has extensive experience working in education sector, and currently is the Executive Manager for Youth and Community Development Division at JET Education Services. Her responsibilities include working with TVET Colleges on systems, capacity building and monitoring and support projects.
Benita Reddi holds a Science Degree from the University of the Witwatersrand and an Honours Degree in Psychology from UNISA. She has almost eight years of experience working in education and research and is currently a specialist coordinator in the Monitoring and Evaluation division at JET. Her research interests include psychological assessment as well as the development of innovative data techniques for programme evaluation.