TVET learners enter accounting sector

Fasset decides to “test the waters” to see how TVET learners perform in the finance and accounting sector.

“If one looks at the development of any occupation, in any field in the world, occupations always follow a pyramid approach. The top of the pyramid needs people with very high levels of academic education and very high levels of competence and skill in a particular area. South Africa is no different in this respect. If one looks at the broader accounting and finance area, the majority of skill that is needed is at the support level. Fewer people are required at the professionally qualified level. However, if one looks at what has happened historically in South Africa, the country has an inverted pyramid in that the majority of young people aspire to be full professionals. We also see many more young South Africans going to university rather than TVET colleges, “says Fasset CEO, Cheryl James.

Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande is trying to normalise this situation through his vision of an integrated post-school education and training system as articulated in the White Paper for Post-school Education and Training. The Minister envisages enrolment at TVET colleges reaching 2,5 million by 2030. Only 650 000 students are currently registered at public TVET colleges.

“Implementing our Minister’s vision has been an enormous challenge for the Finance and Accounting Services Seta because the majority of employers in the sector are accustomed to employing people coming out of universities,” James explains.

Fasset decided to “test the waters” to see how TVET learners could fit into its sector through the Fasset-funded TVET Workplace-based Experience (WBE) Project. “Fasset embarked on this intervention to change employers’ perceptions. Fasset placed TVET learners with employers to obtain the eighteen months work experience required to achieve the National Diploma. The project has proved a resounding success. Employers are now volunteering to take TVET learners into their organisations, particularly in the area of support services. This is very important as Fasset is not positioning the TVET learner in competition with the University learner. We are very cognisant of the fact that the TVET learner has a unique space to fill and this is precisely what our intervention is trying to achieve. The tide has definitely turned and we are now seeing employers such as the Independent Development Corporation (IDC) and many others placing TVET learners in full-time positions and also, requesting additional TVET learners,” she informs.

Ivy Matlou is a case in point. She completed her N6 in Human Resource Management through the Ekhurleni West College. “It has been a wonderful journey to be an intern at the IDC. I came to the IDC not knowing anything about the workplace, how it operates and how things are done. The IDC gave me the platform to use my skills that I have learnt in the classroom in a real world setting and a chance to prove the worth of my qualification,” Matlou reveals.

While completing her internship, she was exposed to the Human Resources Department, Remuneration and Benefits, Corporate Social Investment, Learning and Development and Recruitment. She was also exposed to the recruitment process, had dealings with the IDC bursary students and assisted in training current as well as new employees. One of the highlights during her internship was the opportunity to travel to Cape Town with her mentors to conduct bursary interviews in Cape Town.

She really impressed her employer and has since been appointed to a permanent position. “Employers in the sector are starting to recognise the value that TVET learners are able to add within the workplace. They understand that these learners fill a specific niche. In fact, TVET interns have had such a positive impact at the IDC, that the IDC has appointed Ivy specifically to recruit new TVET learners. I predict that we are going to be seeing an ever increasing number of employers in our sector following suit,” James concludes.

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