President Cyril Ramaphosa says his government wants to adopt aspects of Germany’s education and training system and apply them in South Africa.
Ramaphosa was speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday (24 May), where he was hosting German chancellor Olaf Scholz on an official state visit.
“We look forward to deepening trade and investment ties with Germany. We anticipate constructive discussions around the green economy, clean energy and building climate resilience as we embark on new technologies such as hydrogen & other renewable energy,” Ramaphosa said.
“Another area of our relationship we would like to expand is that of education and skills training. There is much we can learn from the German model of dual education and how German companies integrate the training of young people in the working environment.”
In April 2022, Ramaphosa announced a new programme that will ensure that education and training programmes are directly linked to the jobs needed in South Africa.
He said that a major constraint on growth and employment in the country is the relatively low skills levels in the country and the inadequate outcomes of the education system.
“The resultant skills gap is also a significant contributor to inequality and undermines efforts to end the inter-generational cycle of poverty. The only sustainable way to bridge the skills gap is to dramatically improve the performance of all levels of our education system.
“Among other things, this means ensuring that there is a firm link between the skills and competencies being produced and those required in the economy. We have initiated several programmes to link training to workplace experience and employment.”
Ramaphosa said the jobs shift will see the Department of Higher Education and Training placing 10,000 unemployed TVET graduates in workplaces from April 2022.
The German system
Higher Education and Training minister Blade Nzimande has previously indicated that government plans to follow the ‘German system’ for training workers in the country.
Presenting his department’s 2021 budget vote, Nzimande said that the initiative will help South Africa build a system aligned with its needs in the 21st century.
“Underpinning such skills development will be an apprenticeship based TVET college system similar to the dual system in Germany,” he said.
“This project will see more of our youth absorbed into workplaces, while getting the requisite technical skills, in a meaningful partnership between the PSET system and industry.”
A number of other countries are also looking at copying the country’s dual education system where more than half of German students enter dual vocational and educational training programs (VET) as a route into employment.
Students have the option to choose from 326 professional trades that include diamond cutters, aircraft mechanics and even chimney sweeps.
Apprenticeships are standardised across the country — every product designer must study the same textbooks and be familiar with the same design tools — so employment prospects do not vary greatly by college or company. Most join their training company after three years of low-paid work and study.