The role of the further education training colleges in skills development in Mpumalanga Province as perceived by the local industries
Nkosi, Aaron Elly
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In the Mpumalanga Province, the high rate of black African people aged 20 years or older who had no schooling, namely, 32% in 1996 and 30.1% in 2001, was a cause for concern. The unemployment rate in the province increased from 18.6% in 1996 to 26.3% in 2007. The unemployment rate for black Africans in particular increased from 20.3% in 1996 to 24.6% in 2001. The rural areas in the province are mainly populated by black Africans and since Mpumalanga is a rural province, the conclusion could be drawn that most of the people affected by these figures were found in the rural areas of the province. The Further Education and Training colleges (FET colleges) are the delivery arm of government in skills training programmes, which are primarily suited to the development of human resources in South Africa and especially in rural areas. A research project was carried out to investigate the role of the Further Education and Training colleges in the development of human resources in the rural areas of Mpumalanga Province. A questionnaire was administered to managers of industries, and another one to the managers of Further Education and Training colleges in the province. The results of the research project showed that Further Education and Training colleges did not make a significant contribution towards skills development of human resources in the targeted areas and that the existing offering of programmes were not addressing the critical needs of the people in these areas. Lack of funding contributed towards the limited involvement of the Further Education and Training colleges. It was shown that both Further Education and Training colleges and industries believed that through collaboration in a number of fields such as learnerships, sharing of resources, and planning together can improve their prospects for development. In interpreting the findings within the context of the literature review it was concluded that the role and involvement of Further Education and Training colleges in the rural areas should be directed by the genuine development needs of people in these areas. The identification of training and development needs is critical towards a successful intervention for the development of human resources in rural areas. Furthermore, the training providers targeting rural areas should be informed by both theoretical and practical considerations towards the provision of training intervention programmes. The research presented a number of recommendations, some of the most important being that Further Education and Training colleges be transformed, that there should be collaboration between Further Education and Training colleges and the private sector, that advocacy of the Further Education and Training colleges should take place, that the approaches to planning and development of skills training programmes should be meaningful, that training needs be identified and that funding should be made available for rural development projects.