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Renewed hope for TVET graduates, disabled left in limbo

South African young people will get job opportunities says president Cyril Ramaphosa
South African young people will get job opportunities says president Cyril Ramaphosa
Image: Thulani Mbele

Young South Africans who may have lost hope in getting any employment immediately after they graduate from higher institutions can restore their hopes.

This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa pledging his support for the inclusion of young people in various sectors to boost the sluggish economy with their skills.

"One of the country’s greatest potential strengths is our young population, whose capabilities and talents the social partners are committed to develop as a matter of priority," said Ramaphosa.

He said a specific area of focus is the development of technical skills required in the industrial economy.

"Mechanisms are being put in place to enable companies to form partnerships with nearby TVET [Technical and Vocational Education and Training] colleges, where the colleges offer the theoretical component of the programme and companies offer the practical and workplace components."

The president said this was part of a series of initiatives supported through the framework agreement to ensure that graduates are absorbed into the economy.

"Effective skills development on a large scale will not only help to expand the opportunities and capabilities of young people but will also assist in reducing the wage gap between the lowest and highest paid due to skills scarcities," Ramaphosa added.

However Disabled Youth of South Africa national treasurer  Bongiwe Malope said although they welcomed Ramaphosa's commitment, she felt this was not practical for disabled people.

"… we as disabled people have challenges of infrastructure as some TVET colleges are not accessible. We have challenges of accessibility in infrastructure but also in the curriculum that they have," Malope told SowetanLIVE.

She was speaking shortly after the end of day one of the Presidential Jobs Summit taking place at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand on Thursday.

The two-day job summit has brought together government, business and labour to address the country's unemployment rate.

"The curriculum doesn't allow us to prosper in life after completing the qualification because, for instance, if you studied bricklaying, how are you going to do that [if you're in a wheelchair]?" Malope asked.

Malope, a qualified nurse, said deaf people who intend studying at TVET colleges are often turned away because the institutions do not have qualified people to teach them.

"We don’t have sign language interpreters in TVET colleges so they cannot be accepted. I think if all constituencies could be inclusive in it, it's going to possible to achieve what the president has said."

She recommended that the government rethinks its way of building and setting up career paths by working closely with disabled people organisations to address their challenges.

During the launch of the white paper on post-school education and training in January 2014, then minister of higher education and training Blade Nzimande admitted that there was no national policy on disability to guide education and training institutions in the post-school domain.

At the time, Nzimande admitted that levels of commitment towards people with disability varied considerably between institutions, as did the resources allocated to addressing disability issues. "Technical and Vocational Education and Training  colleges in particular lack the capacity, or even the policies, to cater for students and staff with disabilities."

Nzimande said at the time that data from 22 of the 23 public universities showed that 5807 students with disabilities were enrolled in higher education institutions in 2011, accounting for only 1% of the total enrolment.

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