Vocational Education and Training powered by Germany

Jun 2, 2016

Technical Vocational education and training (TVET) programmes are post-school educational schemes which aim at preparing students for the demands of the job market in a particular profession. TVET can boost a country’s competitiveness and productivity, as graduates address the shortage of skilled labour in the economy and contribute towards a company’s performance. On a personal level, studies revealed that students participating in TVET programmes have increased levels of self-confidence. With around 350 officially recognized training programmes, TVET is deeply embedded into the German education system – in 2014 alone, more than half a million people started a TVET programme in Germany. 

German Foreign Minister visiting the CATS centre in Johannesburg Enlarge image German Foreign Minister visiting the CATS centre in Johannesburg (© Ute Grabowsky / photothek.net) The German model includes a dual approach, meaning that apprentices are employed by a company for the duration of three years, gaining practical skills on the job while simultaneously acquiring theoretical knowledge in the classroom. This approach intends to equip graduates with the required competences to meet the needs of their future employer. The South African government too is highly interested in increasing the vocational education and training sector. Read in this article how German actors engage in South Africa, collaborating with local partners in an attempt to promote the quality and quantity of TVET in this country.

Programmes supported by the German Government

The Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is responsible for the German TVET system. Accordingly, it collaborates with South Africa on a strategic level.

SAIVCET (South African Institute for Vocational and Continuing Education Training)

Since 2012, the German Institute for Vocational Training (BIBB) on behalf of the BMBF supports the establishment of SAIVCET. The creation of the institute is initiated and overseen by the Department of Higher Education & Training (DHET) and is yet to be completed. SAIVCET will promote the African TVET system through various measures: through training, research, curriculum design as well as policy advice. One main contribution from the German partners towards the creation of the institute is to lay out the experiences made with the German “dual-system-model” of education. For this purpose, experts of both ministries in Germany and South Africa exchange knowledge and jointly plan the establishment of the institute.

The Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) added TVET as a new focal area in its collaboration with South Africa in 2015. Through the German development agency GIZ it is particularly active in fostering different projects in the country.

BESD (Basic Entrepreneurial Skills Development Programme)

A participant of the BESD project Enlarge image A participant of the BESD project (© BESD) BESD is a skills development project focusing on emerging entrepreneurs in the informal economy. It is a project supported by the GIZ and implemented through the Small Enterprises Development Agency (SEDA).  Following the aim of creating prospects for young entrepreneurs through quality skills development, it assists the Department of Education and Training (DHET) as well as the Department of Small Business Development. Being launched in 2012, the training consists of weekly two-hour individual coaching sessions for a period of 15 months and is offered in 23 locations across the country. Currently, the number of business coaches amounts to 150, who have so far educated around 2000 emerging entrepreneurs. The coaches themselves were educated through the programme and provide one-on-one sessions for the micro-business owners in their own business locations.

Skills Development for the Green Economy (Dual System Pilot Project)

In an attempt to provide more training for artisan professions in South Africa, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in joint cooperation with the GIZ support the Skills Development for the Green Economy project. The GIZ primarily provides capacity development support and offers experience gained from the German dual system. Therefore, this pilot aims at providing students a dual system educational programme, integrating the education at TVET colleges as well as practical workplace training within companies. It is aimed at training plumbers and electricians and will be offered at four locations, from which two are within the Eastern Cape and the remaining two in Gauteng. The training scheme lays a focus on including the participating partners, so that private companies can select their students from a pool of pre-selected applicants which passed the suitability test. Students undergo a three-year programme, gaining a theoretical education within the college combined with practical knowledge within the company. Thus, students benefit as knowledge acquired in colleges as well as technologies used are similar to those of the actual workplace, resulting in high employment rates for graduates.

Skills for Green Jobs (S4GJ)

A participant from the 'Skills for Green Jobs' Project Enlarge image A participant from the 'Skills for Green Jobs' Project (© Skills for Green Jobs) The National Development Plan (NDP) sets out goals for the creation of renewable energy sources and the reduction of greenhouse gases by 34% until 2030. Such restructuring of the economy requires experts in the field of green technologies. Accordingly, the Skills for Green Jobs programme has been established in 2012 and aims to emphasize the importance of the emerging green economy in South Africa and to promote the quality of education as well as technology in this field.  The GIZ cooperates closely with South African authorities such as the South African Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) as well as the Department of Science and Technology (DST). In the domain of education and training for purposes of developing expertise for the green economy, the project supported the implementation of the teaching subject “Renewable Energy Technologies (RET)”, which is currently offered at nine colleges.

Technical advice for TVET in the Agricultural Sector

The German Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) closely cooperates with the South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) for purposes of knowledge exchange and providing technical advice in the domain of agricultural vocational training and education.

Programmes supported by the Southern African – German Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AHK)

SAGTS (South African-German Training Services)

Under the umbrella association “South African-German Training Services” (SAGTS), the Southern African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry runs two vocational programmes in Johannesburg. Builders Training Center (BTC) offers a one-year training in Soweto with the objective of equipping young adults with basic building skills. At the Commercial Advancement Training Scheme (CATS), students learn Business Administration skills within a two-year training adapted from the German Dual System.

BTC-Soweto (Builder’s Training Centre Soweto)

German Ambassador Lindner at the Builders Training Centre in Soweto Enlarge image German Ambassador Lindner at the Builders Training Centre in Soweto (© German Embassy Pretoria) The BTC-Soweto is a construction training project offering disadvantaged young adults in Soweto the opportunity to acquire basic building skills. The TVET programme was established by the AHK in 1992 and provides a one-year learning programme. In order to ensure the employability of its graduates, the programme collaborates closely with private enterprises in order to cater for their specialized needs. In addition to that, BTC-Soweto also maintains a close partnership with public entities such as the Department of Labour and the Department of Public Works. In fact, learners are directly sent by either private companies or public authorities and schooled in one of the following professions: Construction Masonry, Construction Plasterer and Tiling, Construction Roof Carpentry and Dry walling, Construction Plumbing, Solar installation and Maintenance, Construction Painting, Community House Builder, Building and Civil Construction. With reference to this, the establishment of the Solar Water Heater Installation and Maintenance Training Centre has been especially successful. This is due to the fact that the lack of knowledge in the field of solar energy is high, while the availability of expertise in this sector is still limited. Upon successful completion of the courses, graduates are awarded with a certificate accredited by the Construction Education Authority (CETA). Prospective students who are able to read and write and who are considered as a historically disadvantaged individual in light of the legislation are eligible to apply.

CATS (Commercial Advancement Training Scheme)

CATS is the second division managed by the SAGTS. It is an accredited Education and Training provider set up in 1985 and works in close cooperation with private companies and public authorities. Through this collaboration, CATS can adjust its training to the sector-specific needs of participating companies. Courses offered range from National Certified Bookkeeping, FET Certified Bookkeeping, National Diploma Accounting, Certified Office Administration, Senior and Junior Office Administration to National Certified Small Business Finance Management. The training is organised according to the German “dual system”. In light of this, the training consists of a two-year programme with one day of theory and four days of practice each week. CATS’ flagship programme is the German “Industriekaufmann” (industrial clerk). Moreover, the certificate in business administration is recognized by the European Union, while the certificate in Office Administration is issued by the FASSET (Finance and Accounting Services Sector Education and Training Authority) and quality-tested through the ICB (Institute of Certified Bookkeepers). Prospective candidates are pre-selected on basis of a personal interview and given that they meet the education requirements and pass the literary and numeric tests. After this, participating companies and organizations can select the students from a pool of potential candidates. Until 2014, the programme’s total number of graduates amounted to 1755. Due to the fact that learners receive an income during the two years of education, the programme is financially appealing and invites economically disadvantaged applicants.

EUREM (European Energy Manager)

EUREM is an advanced qualification possibility for already employed persons. Graduates are equipped with the skills to promote energy saving within their own company. In doing so, energy managers do not only optimize their company’s energy consumption but furthermore contribute towards the protection of the environment. The initiative was launched in 1999 in Germany and arrived in South Africa in 2014. Since then, training facilities were established in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. The initiative does not solely serve as an educational programme, but furthermore functions as a platform for exchange of experiences between Energy Managers around the world. The training consists of nine modules including courses e.g. in Energy and Heat Technologies or Solar Technologies. Amounting to 120 hours in total, the modules can be attended in classrooms as well as through online self-study.

Involvement by Regional authorities and private actors

Bergzicht Training Centre Stellenbosch / Hanns Seidel Foundation

The Hanns Seidel Foundation, a German political foundation, supports the Bergzicht Training Centre in Stellenbosch since its launch in 1992. The Centre focusses on the education of unemployed people in the fields of home-based care, edu-care, domestic work as well as skills for the hospitality and accommodation industry. Furthermore, already employed people are aided through the Centre in order to secure their employment. Offering classes on an annual basis, the Centre trained around 10,000 learners in the first 19 years of existence. The focus hereby lies with the education of women.

Bakery & Confectionary courses and Cooperative education / German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation (DRGV)

Since 2013, the German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation (DRGV) offers training courses at its regional training Centre in Pretoria. Courses are offered in the field of bakery and confectionary training as well as on cooperative training; the latter providing participants with knowledge on cooperative structures, management and administration of cooperatives.

Adult education / Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (DVV International)

The Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (DVV International) is active in South Africa since 1998, promoting mainly adult education, but also youth education. In light of this, DVV International cooperates with several South African partners in an attempt to support community colleges, training of adult education specialists, spreading the use of learning and educational practices as well as policy advice.

Partnership between the German State of Lower Saxony and the Province of the Eastern Cape

The partnership between the two states has a significant history and was established in 1995. It is extensive and covers various sectors: ranging from the education and tourism sector to cooperation in the field of science, renewable energy and youth exchange. In regard to TVET, Lower Saxony for instance supports the Skills Development for a Green Economy project. In light of this, TVET schools and institutes in the state of Lower Saxony participate in knowledge exchange with partners from the Eastern Cape.

© German Embassy Pretoria

Vocational Education and Training

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Ambassador Lindner visits the Builders Training Center in Soweto

Ambassador Lindner visits the Builders Training Center in Soweto

Dual vocational training in Germany

Schüler im Klassenzimmer

The German system of dual vocational training is unique. State, business and social partners work in close cooperation to continually improve this training model, geared to the real needs of the economy. This enables it to make a significant contribution to guaranteeing that the need for skilled workers can be met and thus to securing Germany's high level of competitiveness and productivity. Work-based learning ensures that both vocational and social skills are developed from day one.

Organisations active in international vocational training

An apprentice workshop in Germany

Prominent active organisations in this field offer a broad range of specialised expertise and services. They range from government organisations like GOVET to the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Well-trained, German style: Implementing training model abroad

Vocational training at GLW-Siegburg

Smolensk or Budapest, Barcelona or Lisbon, Puebla or Pretoria – Germany's dual training system is attracting more attention than ever before. Many countries are interested in the tradition-steeped German Model. In South Africa a vocational training institute is being established.

BIBB and South Africa develop vocational training institute

Metal-working trainees in the German region of Bonn/Rhein-Sieg

The Federal Institute for Vocational Training (BIBB) is helping South Africa build up a vocational training institute. The South African Vocational Training Institute is expected to be up and running in 2015.

Vocational training in Johannesburg

Southern African - German Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Under the umbrella association “South African-German Training Services”, the Southern African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry runs two vocational programmes in Johannesburg. Builders Training Center (BTC) offers a one-year training in Soweto with the objective of equipping young adults with basic building skills. At the Commercial Advancement Training Scheme (CATS), students learn Business Administration skills within a two-year training adapted from the German Dual System.

GIZ vocational training program

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), is collaborating with the South African Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to increase employment levels. The Basic Entrepreneurial Skills Development Programme is such a project.