This section describes programmes that have a strong workplace-learning component in addition to knowledge and theory. These programmes assist learners to apply what they have learnt in a real work context so that they can develop the skills that are needed in the workplace or to start and run their own businesses. These work-integrated occupational programmes improve the employability of learners as employers prefer graduates who have some work experience.
Different types of work-integrated occupational programmes
The information below gives a brief overview of the programmes that are described in this section of the website. Many learners can benefit from these programmes, for example:
- Learners interested in careers in practical and technical fields;
- Unemployed persons who need to develop the skills that will make them more employable;
- Graduates from colleges or universities who lack employable skills;
- Learners who dropped out of school before completing matric;
- School leavers who do not meet the entry requirements into higher education institutions, but who want to continue with post-school studies;
- Learners who plan to use these programmes as stepping stones into further studies at universities, e.g. completing an engineering programme so as to continue with an engineering degree; and
- Learners who plan to follow the entrepreneurship route, and use these programmes to develop the technical and business skills they will need to start and/or run their own businesses.
A learnership combines a structured learning component delivered by a training institution with practical work experience that is acquired while being employed in a company, government department or small business. Learners attend classes at a college or other training institution to acquire the knowledge/theory and practical skills, and also complete specific tasks to gain experience in a workplace. The learner, training institution and employer sign a formal agreement that covers the duration of the learnership, which is generally a year or 18 months.
An internship is an opportunity offered by an employer to young people to gain career-specific work experience during or after studies to prepare them for the real world of work as an employee or in an entrepreneurial venture. Interns get the opportunity to apply what they learnt in their studies under the guidance of a mentor for a period of a year or less.
An apprenticeship is a work-based learning route for learners who are interested in working in a practical, technical field, so that they can become certified artisans after completing a trade test. Apprentices attend formal instruction sessions at a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college or other training institution to acquire the trade-related knowledge and theory as well as practical hand skills. They also spend some time in a workplace working under the guidance of a skilled, qualified artisan to become proficient in the trade. Persons with the required knowledge and work experience can also become artisans through a process of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) to gain access to the trade test.
These programmes have a strong occupational focus, with work-based experience as the central pillar, together with the knowledge and practical skills developed through the programmes. This means that part of the programme must be completed in a workplace where an employer is willing to provide learners with the opportunity to complete the compulsory work-experience component of the Occupational Certificate that learners achieve after successful completion of the programme.
Programmes leading to part-qualifications
As the name indicates, a ‘part-qualification’ is a part of a qualification, and always indicates the qualification that it relates to. Part-qualifications are registered separately on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) with a reference to the ‘full’ qualifications they are ‘part’ of. The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) currently recognises the following as part-qualifications: unit standards, the knowledge, practical skills and work experience modules of Occupational Certificates, and NATED programmes (National Accredited Technical Education Diploma, the ‘N-programmes’). (In the case of Occupational Certificates, part-qualifications include elements of all three components, i.e. knowledge, practical skills and work experience.)
Skills programmes are also described in this section; they are occupationally-directed programmes that are based on unit standards that form part of a qualification.
What are PIVOTAL programmes?
These are professional, vocational, technical and academic learning programmes that result in qualifications or part-qualifications on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). They are generally delivered by public or private training institutions and include supervised practical learning in a workplace. Most of the programmes described in this section are PIVOTAL as they include work-integrated learning or work experience placements, and they lead to registered qualifications or part-qualifications. They are also ‘pivotal’ in the sense that they provide a link between formal learning and the workplace. The Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) provide funding for PIVOTAL programmes in the form of grants paid to employers and allowances paid to learners in some of the programmes.
What is Work-Integrated Learning?
Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) refers to learning that takes place during the performance of work activities. Many vocational and professionally-oriented qualifications integrate theory and practice by including work-integrated learning. The term ‘WIL’ is used in different ways in South Africa. Therefore, it is important to understand the way WIL is used in a specific WIL programme you may be involved in. WIL could be a compulsory component of a qualification, or it could be used more informally to develop skills through work experience.
WIL is included in some vocational and professionally-oriented qualifications in different forms, e.g. as simulated learning, work-directed theoretical learning, problem-based learning, project-based learning and/or workplace-based learning. Where WIL is included in a qualification, it has to be supervised in the workplace and formally assessed.
A number of examples are provided below of WIL that is funded by Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). [Note that the SETA policies on WIL and funding may have changed since this information was recorded.]
- The merSETA (for Manufacturing, Engineering & Related Services) pays stipends for young graduates who are registered for a qualification and who complete workplace experience over a year.
- The Foodbev SETA (for the Food & Beverages Manufacturing Industry) recognises work readiness programmes of three to six months as WIL for learners of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. This SETA also supports work exposure programmes for learners who attend open days at manufacturing plants.
- The Wholesale & Retail SETA recognises the placements of final year students from universities and TVET colleges in workplaces as WIL and provides funding for such students.