TVET colleges offer different types of career-focused vocational programmes designed specifically to prepare young people to enter the labour market or to become entrepreneurs who start and run their own businesses. Once people become active in the labour market, a range of other career opportunities open up. Many careers will require college graduates to complete additional qualifications. Some public TVET colleges offer up to 300 different courses.
Which qualifications and programmes are offered at public TVET colleges?
Programmes are offered in many fields, such as agriculture, arts and culture, business, building construction, commerce and management, education and training, engineering, manufacturing, technology, security and services. The courses vary in duration from short courses of a few hours to formal diploma courses of three years. Most courses require full-time attendance of classes, although some courses are offered via distance learning or through blended learning that combines attendance, electronic delivery and self-study.
The colleges mainly offer courses on Levels 1 to 4 on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), although some colleges offer Higher Certificates on Level 5 with 120 credits.
The two main courses offered by TVET colleges are:
- National Certificate (Vocational) qualifications, the NC (V), and
- National Accredited Technical Education Diploma (NATED) programmes, also referred to as “Report 191” programmes.
TVET colleges offer the following additional qualifications and programmes:
- Selected UNISA and other qualifications registered on the NQF,
- Occupational work-integrated programmes: learnerships and apprenticeships, as well as trade tests,
- Skills programmes and non-formal short courses, and
- National Senior Certificate for learners who want to complete their school education.
The above-mentioned qualifications and programmes are described in separate sections below.
SAQA registers qualifications in a prescribed format on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) against a Level that indicates the level of complexity of learning. The articulation of qualifications across the NQF enables learners to progress through the ten NQF levels in individual learning pathways. The levels of qualifications are indicated in the table below.
|QUALIFICATION LEVELS ON THE NQF|
|Level 1||General Certificate (Grade 9)|
|Level 4||National Senior Certificate (Grade 12)|
|Level 5||Higher Certificate|
|Level 6||Advanced Certificate
|Level 7||Advanced Diploma
Bachelor’s Degree (360 credits)
|Level 8||Bachelor’s Degree (480 credits)
Bachelor Honours Degree
|Level 9||Master’s Degree|
|Level 10||Doctorate (PhD)|
The National Qualifications Framework (NQF)
The NQF is an integrated national framework that was established in 1995 to bring all education and training in South Africa together into one unified outcomes-based system. All qualifications and unit standards are registered on a particular level on the NQF. The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) oversees the NQF and has established a comprehensive quality system to ensure the quality and relevance of qualifications. This gives the assurance that qualifications registered on the NQF enjoy national and international recognition.
The objectives of the NQF are to:
- Create an integrated national framework for learning achievements;
- Enhance the quality of education and training;
- Facilitate access to, and mobility and progression within, education, training and career paths;
- Accelerate the redress of past unfair discrimination in education, training and employment opportunities; and
- Contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the nation at large.
A unit standard is the smallest building block of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), and together with qualifications, they constitute the basic structure of the NQF. Each unit standard is registered on the NQF with its title, Level, number of credits and a unique ID number. An example of a unit standard is “Develop a business plan for a small business”. It is on NQF Level 4, has 5 credits and the SAQA ID is 117241. Unit standards are used by training providers to develop learning programmes that are aligned to the NQF. Learners who complete such a programme will receive the credits for the unit standard(s) to which the programme is aligned.
Qualifications on the National Qualifications Framework
The table below depicts the types of qualifications on the different levels of the NQF.
|10||HET||Doctoral Degree (professional)||University||Degrees|
|9||Master’s degree (professional)|
|7||Bachelor’s degree||OC 7|
|6||Diploma & Advanced certificate||OC 6||Certificates|
|5||Higher certificate||N4-N6||OC 5||TVET|
|4||FET||National certificate||Grade 12||NCV 4||N3||OC 4|
|3||Grade 11||NCV 3||N2||OC 2|
|2||Grade 10||NCV 2||N1||OC 1|
|1||GET||General certificate||Grade 9||Level 4||ABET Centres|
|Grade 7||Level 3|
|Grade 5||Level 2|
|Grade 3||Level 1|
Source: Post-school education: Broadening alternative pathways from school to work, by Nicola Branson, et al. (Published in South African Child Gauge, 2015)
ABET – Adult Basic Education and Training (Now AET)
FET – Further Educational and Training
GET – General Educational and Training
HET – Higher Education and Training
NATED – National Accredited Technical Education Diploma
NC (V) – National Certificate (Vocational)
NSC – National Senior Certificate
OC – Occupational Certificate
TVET – Technical and Vocational Education and Training
Each qualification specifies the minimum number of credits that must be achieved to be awarded the qualification, with 1 credit being equal to 10 notional hours of learning. For example, a Diploma requires a minimum of 240 credits which means that students will need to complete approximately 2400 notional hours of learning to achieve all the outcomes of the qualification. Notional hours are an estimation of all the time that it would take an average learner to meet the outcomes, recognising that some learners could achieve the outcomes in less time than others. The calculation of notional hours includes contact time (i.e. time spent in structured learning in the ‘classroom’), learning activities in the workplace (where relevant), self-study, as well as the preparation for and completion of assignments.