Introducing the debate on the FET College Bill , the Minister of Education said, "The Bill is not only important for setting up a specific statutory platform for colleges. It is also important because our current shortage of skills poses the biggest threat to the infrastructure programme of government." Currently about 400 000 students attend FET colleges and 700 000 attend higher education institutions (HEI).
Government plans to increase the number of students attending colleges. To support this aim, an FET bursary and student loan scheme was announced by Minister Manuel in his Medium Term Budget Policy statement on 25 October 2006.
The college sector has been redesigned so that from next year they will be able to offer intermediate and high level skills to students from the age 16 to mature adults.
The Minister of Education said, "All indicators of economic growth and development point to the fact that we must have more artisans in all the economic sectors in our country. We believe colleges are best placed to teach these skills alongside industry and other partners. So the time for the college sector has come. Now is the time for employers to look to the college sector for those critical skills they need in the immediate future."