25 June 2024

GETC will steer young South Africans into vocational and occupational training – part one of a two-part series.

The proposed General Education and Training Certificate (GETC), if implemented correctly, is a way of steering more talented young South Africans into vocational and occupational training.

This will help to address the dire shortage of qualified artisans. At present, we are nowhere near to producing the targeted 30 000 qualified artisans every year by 2030. This is a goal that is clearly articulated in both the National Development Plan and the White Paper for Post-School Education and Training. The country needs these skills to execute the much-anticipated Strategic Infrastructure Projects. This is opposed to importing them as has been the case on many strategic infrastructure projects thus far.

The proposed grade 9 certificate is modelled on the GETC: Adult Education and Training (AET) learnership. This is considering the role that it has played in inspiring many young employees and unemployed individuals to pursue artisanry as a profession. They have excelled in their chosen fields because they are better suited to this type of work.

“Many of these individuals did not complete their basic education simply because they are not academically inclined. Struggling to keep pace with other learners in their class, they became frustrated; lost morale, self confidence and esteem; and eventually simply dropped out. With very little to offer a modern economy in way of skills, many of these learners join the growing number of unemployed youths. Worse still, many are also not in education and training. Others manage to find work as general labourers or in the informal industries with very little opportunity to develop careers or grow as individuals – if it were not for AET. A term often used to describe these individuals is the ‘working poor’, one of the main drivers of high inequality in the country,” Marco Maree, Expert Training and Development Advisor of Triple E Training, says.

Triple E Training is the foremost provider of training for the GETC: AET, having equipped many low- and unskilled workers and unemployed youth with basic education or “soft” skills. This is in addition to the role that the company’s training serves as the basis upon which “hard” skills are developed during occupational and vocational training. Many of these individuals only discovered their talents and decided how best to use them while completing the GETC: AET learnership. With help from their employers and Triple E Training, they were steered onto suitable learning paths.

In the foreseeable future, learners who pass grade 9 will be able to exit school with a GETC. This signals to potential employers that they have attained fundamental skills at a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level 1. This is sufficient to perform some entry level and general work. Currently, learners who leave school after passing grade 9 do not receive acknowledgement for their competency in basic education skills at this level of the NQF.

However, Maree warns that the GETC must not be viewed as an “exit” certificate as this could potentially exacerbate youth unemployment. Currently, 40% of South African learners drop out of school. The dropout rate across each school grade is about 4,5% with most occurring from grades 9 through to 11.

“Many of our clients, especially those operating in the manufacturing industry, are increasingly moving away from employing low- and unskilled workers – even for entry level and general work. They appoint us to equip existing staff who have not completed basic education with skills equivalent to someone who has passed grade 9. Thereafter, these employees will go on to learn for an NQF 4 qualification, pursuing more practical paths than a conventional adult matric to do so. These include vocational and occupational training from NQF 2. It is also mandatory for employees to first complete our Quality Council for Trades and Occupations- (QCTO) accredited foundational learning competence training before enrolling for any of QCTO’s new occupational qualifications. This is considering the rapidly changing nature of general work which now also relies heavily on ‘soft’ skills. Depending on the level of sophistication of some production lines, these skills have become just as or even more important than ‘hard’ or technical proficiencies. While many machines have the ability to replace ‘hard’ skills, they do not possess emotional intelligence and cannot think logically, critically and creatively, among other ‘soft’ skills,” Maree says.

Rather, he says, the GETC should be viewed as a means of access to alternative learning paths for those individuals who are not interested in pursuing conventional academic learning. Therefore, the introduction of the qualification needs to be supported by improved career counselling at school. This has been lacking with many learners aware of the technical trades but unsure of how to access this learning.

Read the latest issue

Latest Issue