While noting the large number of reduction of students that will be placed in leadership, artisanship and workplace-based learning in the Department of Higher Education and Training’s revised Annual Performance Plans (APP), the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture has advised the department to look into the issue of intern students not being provided with the experiential training related to their course of study.

The committee heard that the Covid-19 tax relief measures will negatively impact on various learning programmes. The number of learners or students placed in workplace-based learning programmes was reduced to 100 000, from the initial 170 000, the number of learners entering artisanal programmes was reduced to 20 000, from the initial 30 500, and the number of artisans found competent was reduced from 24 500 to 19 000.

The Chairperson of the committee, Mr Elleck Nchabeleng, today told the department that the committee has received various complaints from students who indicated that they are assigned to jobs which are not directly related to the experience which they require during their course of study. Providing an example, Mr Nchabeleng said there are students in Limpopo who had brought to the attention of the committee that they are assigned to companies for internships related to electrical engineering, but these students end up reading water and electricity meters. He questioned the department on whether it monitors the training provided to students to ensure that this corresponds with their field of study.

The department’s Director-General, Mr Gwebinkundla Qonde, indicated that internships and apprenticeships arranged by TVET colleges are monitored by the institutions themselves. While there may not be a monitoring system linked specifically to entities and companies, Mr Qonde said these entities and companies have a contractual obligation to ensure that students are provided with the correct experience and placed in the correct positions.

The committee advised the department to urgently look into the complaints raised by the students and to further implore companies, entities and any other employer to honour their contractual obligations to the learners.

By Felicia Lombard
6 October 2020