Women Less Likely To Find Employment, Despite Being Qualified


The Department of Higher Education has various plans developing that aim to improve the Post-School Education and Training sector, for female students and TVET colleges, specifically. 



Buti Manamela, the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, has revealed that young women in South Africa are taking up more space within tertiary education.

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has set out specific goals that it hopes to achieve within the Post-School Education and Training (PSET) sector.

One goal is to increase the number of women enrolling in higher education, specifically Black women. The aim is to have Black women occupy more positions as academics, which is a vision that is already in motion.

"Young women actually dominate the Post-School Education and Training sector and not only in terms of participation, but also in terms of graduation," stated Manamela. 

This is welcomed news, as South Africa faces a significant gender gap that often leaves women at the short-end of the stick. 

On paper, South Africa's women should be succeeding. The country has solid female representation in high Government positions, there are laws protecting the rights of the women, women have marched and fought for those rights, and there are now more equal opportunities to gain a decent education.

Despite all the triumphs of our country's women, education inequality presents as a challenge globally, and is reflective in the higher unemployment rate amongst women than amongst men in South Africa.

Statistics South Africa mentions that according to 2021's Quarterly Labour Force Survey, the South African labour market shows to be more favourable to men than it is to women. 

Discrimination based on gender persists, most of all affecting women of colour and women living in poverty. 

"Women in South Africa and around the world still face additional challenges that hinder them from accessing employment. Once they are in employment, appointments to decision-making positions and jobs in certain sectors, or of certain characteristics, remain elusive. Men are more likely to be in paid employment than women regardless of race, while women are more likely than men to be doing unpaid work," reads the report. 

Not only are women facing barriers when it comes to gaining substantial employment, but if they do manage to successfully obtain a source of income, they're paid less than their male counterparts. 

Another goal of the DHET is to increase the number of enrollments in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, as well as improving the quality of TVET college education to "ensure and encourage skills development that will not come from universities," stated Manamela. 

South Africa has 26 public universities and 50 TVET colleges, but it has been revealed that most students are gravitating towards choosing a university over a college, and TVET colleges aren't keeping up with its enrolment targets, in comparison to universities.

“We’re doing quite well with the increase in terms of the number of students that go to universities. I mean, this year we may actually hit the 1.2 million mark when we get the numbers, and I think the NDP target is somewhere in the region of 1.65 million by 2030," said Manamela.

However, the same can't be said for TVET colleges. 

When applying for tertiary education, many potential students steer towards a university and away from a TVET college, as there is a broad misconception that university education is better than the education offered at a TVET college, and that with a university qualification, there is a higher chance of becoming employed than with a qualification from a TVET college.

“Chances of a TVET college graduate being employed are much higher than in any other sector in our education system,” added the Deputy Minister. 

"We’re not doing very well as it relates to TVET college registration and there are a whole range of factors”, explained Manamela, "which include students being encouraged to go to universities instead of TVETs. Projections for this year [are] 550 000”.

There are plans being made by the Ministry to be able to meet the objective of 2.5 million students in TVET colleges by 2030, which Manamela admits is a very ambitious target.

The DHET has laid down the goal of expanding the PSET sector, with the Parliamentary Committee advocating for an increase in the budget for TVET colleges, creating better infrastructure, employing more lecturers and improving equity in TVET and university programmes overall. 

Manamela acknowledges that there will be challenges around infrastructure, but that the Ministry is looking to work with public works to accommodate student living and expand the TVET sector. This expansion will also include opening up the online learning space.

Many institutions of tertiary education adopted a blended-learning approach, particularly after the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“The future of expanding our Post-School Education and Training system lies in blended-learning, which is a combination of physical and online, and potentially more also towards online learning,” said Manamela, who added that there are initiatives being developed to “ensure that we have wide access to [the] internet and all of that in our country, so that it can be used specifically for education.” 


Suggested Article:

A student at a TVET College.

South Africa has 26 public universities and 50 TVET colleges, but it has been revealed that most students are gravitating towards choosing a university over a college, and TVET colleges aren't keeping up with its enrolment targets, in comparison to universities.




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