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Nzimande Shines Light on Skills Development

September 30, 2021

Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation

The higher education, science and innovation minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, plans to build and refashion the technical vocational education and training (TVET) system to be apprenticeship based.

The minister highlighted this in an address at the Hybrid 5th National Skills Conference.

“Ideally every TVET college student should be apprenticed in industry or in a workplace, rather than the current system of a theoretically biased TVET system”, he said.

The minister added that the National Advisory Council on Innovation – an agency of the science and innovation department – has completed a study on how to promote innovation in TVET colleges.

“This study is also important in foreground innovation and entrepreneurship in our TVET college system”, he said.

As regards lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic, the minister pointed out that the national system of innovation as guided by the 2019 White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) and the STI Decadal Plan began “adapting approaches and established cross-cutting innovation instruments and solution-oriented capabilities to deal with the realities of Covid 19”.

“We have allocated substantial financial resources to fund COVID-19 projects, including epidemiological studies and genomic surveillance that placed South African scientists on the international map, working with other countries to find solutions to the pandemic”, he said.

The minister declared that the promotion of innovation and digitalization in the skills development ecosystem requires the restructuring of institutions of higher learning to provide new programmes in emerging interdisciplinary fields to more efficiently produce trained workers to help advance and accelerate trans-boundary fields such as biotechnology, nanotechnology materials and Artificial Intelligence.

“Substantial and constant changes to the curricula of our institutions remain critical in order to allow for students to develop capacities to deal with emergent and unknown challenges of the future brought by the 4IR”, he said.

The minister also indicated that both the Skills and Innovation Strategies place a premium on building strong industry partnerships between education and training institutions and the business sector.