Thirty years ago, a typical worker expected to find a job and stay in that company until retirement. Training happened on the job and was entirely at the discretion of the employer. Few economically disadvantaged workers were able to independently afford further training or higher education.
Between 1995 and 2008 a number of laws revolutionised the workplace and the education system, creating new learning institutions, new qualifications and career pathways, new forms of funding and new ways of learning.
Today, no matter their position in society, level of prior learning or economic circumstances, there is an entry point for everyone into the education system for further training and higher education. One of the most accessible points of entry, especially for employed people, is the public college.
After public colleges were reorganised into 50 technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges and student funding became available through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), enrolment in public TVET colleges grew rapidly, from about 400 000 in 2005 to 702 383 students in 2014.
This doubling of student numbers in the space of ten years was achieved by upgrading and expanding alternatives to full-time study such as distance learning and part-time learning.
Part-time study has been a particular boon to employed individuals needing to keep up with technological and industrial change, while still earning an income and supporting themselves and their families.
Part-time students enjoy exactly the same standard of education as full-time students and the same facilities and lecturers, but with the added flexibility afforded by after-hours classes. Part-time students tend to be more mature and experienced, and benefit academically from sharing experiences of different workplaces and industries.
As part-time students are usually self-funded, they often have to take breaks from study before continuing. Modular course design and the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) system allow students to leave after studying a few subjects, be accredited for them and come back to complete the qualification when they can afford to. A part-time student can also retain the accumulated credits and switch to full-time study if desired.
Essentially, where before this was entirely at their employers’ discretion, part-time study provides adult learners with multiple options to independently undertake ‘on-the-job’ training and improve their career prospects.
For more information on the part-time and distance learning programmes available at False Bay TVET College, please visit our website www.falsebaycollege.co.za
False Bay TVET College Spokesperson