You have probably heard about vocational training in some form or other. These are a much-needed skills set in South Africa. Vocational Education Training (VET) could help the country to reach its National Development Goal of decent employment as well as help to develop the skills necessary to create a capable workforce to support inclusive growth.

“Vocational education can help fill skills gap, boost productivity, enhance industries employment, all of which have a significant impact on individuals, businesses and the economy as a whole,” said Mike Dawe, director of international at the City and Guilds Group to Brand South Africa.

That’s why we will unpack what vocational education training is, what type of courses you can take and the different colleges that offer vocational training in South Africa.

What is vocational training?

Vocational training, also known as Career and Technical Education (CTE) or Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET),emphasises skills and knowledge required for a particular job or function. It focuses on day-to-day duties involved with a specific trade, craft, profession, or role.

Types of vocational training

Formal education – Enables you to start vocational training at secondary school level, from Grade 9 to Grade 12 by completing a technical matric certificate.

You may also be able to do it post high school by choosing either a technical university, or public / private TVET college that offers national qualifications and Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA).

Apprenticeship –  You are able to learn a trade by working alongside a skilled professional in an actual work environment. Apprenticeships are also known as learnerships in South Africa, and form part of the National Diploma if you are doing N4 to N6 qualification.

On the job training –  This training can be either be provided directly by your company, or by a third party training provider sourced by your company.

Continuous development – Can be undertaken by a qualified professionals for a number of reasons such as fulfilling the membership requirements of professional organisations, updating outdated skills, expanding skill sets or learning an additional trade.

What are TVET Colleges?

TVET colleges are part of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and are fully equipped to educate, train and provide a theoretical skills set.

As part of the higher education system TVET colleges accept students who have completed Grade 9, 10, 11 or 12 at high school level.

There are around 50 colleges across South Africa which collectively have 264 campuses. TVET colleges are 80 percent subsidised by the government meaning you can apply for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursaries.

Types of courses and colleges

National Certificate (Vocational)

These programmes integrate theory and practice and provide students with broad range of knowledge and practical skills.

May take up to three years as you do one level per year, you can be admitted from grade nine upwards.

N1 to N6

Programmes consist of 18 months theoretical studies at colleges and 18 months of relevant practical application in the workplace, Engineering studies starts from N1- N6 while business and utility studies start from N4 – N6.

It takes one year for N1 – N3 Engineering studies and three years for N4 – N6 Business and Utility studies of which 18 months is theoretical and 18 months is workplace application.

Admission requirements are Grade 9 for N1 admission and Grade 12 for N4 admission.

National Higher Certificate

These courses are offered at colleges. Course duration depends on the specific programme you have chosen and admission requirements are Grade 12. The requirements are set by the Higher education institution as well as the college.

Public TVET Colleges
Central Johannesburg College
Ekurhuleni East TVET College
Sedibeng TVET College
South West Gauteng TVET College
Tshwane South TVET College
Western TVET College

Private TVET Colleges
Abattoir skills training College
Aboutlearning College
Academy at Vaal Triangle College
Africa Institute of management and technology
African Academy for built environment
Birnam Business College

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