A tripartite partnership was launched on Monday, 10 October, between Universities South Africa’s Higher Education Leadership and Management (HELM) Programme, the Central Johannesburg TVET College (CJC) and the Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority (EWSETA). This partnership will see five CJC lecturers undergo training in renewable energy as well as twenty middle managers from the same college participating in the College Management Development Programme (CMDP), offered by HELM.
Speaking at this event, which was hosted at Universities South Africa’s offices in Hatfield, Pretoria, Ms Mpho Mookapele (2nd from right, below), Chief Executive Officer of the EWSETA, said they are in this partnership to ensure that the skills development critical to South Africa’s transition from fossil energy sources to more renewable energy sources takes place. She mentioned a plethora of opportunities available in the roll out of new technologies in the water sector and in South Africa’s Just Energy Transition programme that includes green hydrogen power generation.
Presiding over the launch ceremony were (from left), Dr Phethiwe Matutu, Chief Executive Officer of USAf; Mr Mpho Diago, Administrator at the CJC and Ms Mpho Mookapele, Chief Executive Officer of the EWSETA.
“We cannot invest in learners without empowering and enabling their lecturers to engage industry confidently on these new technologies. For me, it is not just about lecturer development but extending capacity building to key other areas where there are other challenges. By empowering lecturers, we inform the national strategy. The entire hydrogen belt in the Limpopo province and beyond, is home to numerous TVET colleges that should be targeted with similar training.”
She went on to say that to achieve an equitable South Africa, capacity development cannot leave out TVETs because by so doing, “we’re leaving out communities. Most TVETs were designed to respond to fossil fuels that are being phased out now. How and when are they going to prepare to transition to new energy sources, without the requisite training? You only need to talk to SASOL to understand the challenges they’re facing in transitioning from fossils to renewable energy, to also comprehend what we should be doing to empower TVETs.” Strongly believing that TVETs were established to support industry, Ms Mookapele said her SETA was seeking to influence what the lecturers teach learners. “Our aim is not just to fund but also drive on-going change.”
Dr Oliver Seale (right), Director of HELM, assured those in attendance. “What we’re doing with the EWSETA and CJC marks the beginning of a long term mutually beneficial collaboration, the success of which will see us taking the CMDP to scale in the TVET sector. For the purpose of advancing a relevant CMDP, responsive to the needs of the CJC and the TVET sector as a whole, HELM has partnered with the Gordon Institute for Business Science (GIBS).”
Possible other collaboration opportunities
The ultimate solution to South Africa’s problems lay in TVETs and universities working together, Ms Mookapele intimated. She blamed the regulations governing institutions in the post-school education and training (PSET) sector, and their policies and reporting requirements, for the current siloed model of operations and suggested effective solutions to this challenge.
- Renewable technologies research: The EWSETA CEO said she wished to see universities collaborating with TVETs in this area, as part of aiding the latter to respond to industry needs. Looking at some work done locally, she said she had seen very limited focus on energy and water technologies. “Potential research funding from overseas entities also spells a gap in research driven by self-interest. We do not want to conduct research driven by global needs but offering no solutions to Africa’s problems.”
- Entrepreneurship Development in TVETs: Dr Seale mentioned this area as another possible opportunity for support, which USAf was also equipped to assist the TVET sector with, under the auspices of its Entrepreneurial Development in Higher Education (EDHE) programme.
- Leadership, management and research capacity development in TVETs: Mr Mpho Diago, the current CJC Administrator, pointed to a leadership, management and research capacity need in TVETs. “I strongly recommend a programme to develop leadership in the entire system.”
- Strategic input from USAf’s strategy groups: USAf’s CEO, Dr Phethiwe Matutu, said the magnitude of needs in energy and water resources creates even bigger room for USAf to assist with a lot more, citing opportunities for the Research and Innovation Strategy Group to set direction in terms of where research initiatives could go, while the Teaching and Learning Strategy Group sets priorities in their sphere of influence. The World of Work Strategy Group, as the holding body for the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) programme, could also lead towards serving specific other needs.
Dr Matutu said witnessing Higher Education reaching out to the TVET sub-sector warranted applause and celebration. “The opportunity to work with academics and administrators in one institution gives us a holistic view of what the organisation is experiencing, and where it should be going – for the ultimate benefit of that institution. Potential implications for the entire TVET sector give us confidence that we’re making the right strides. I hope this is a seed out of which more will sprout.”
Mr Diago further said that the HELM training would enable CJC managers to perform in a changing and complex organisation with a focus on driving innovation and technology, growing third stream income, enhancing management of teaching and learning and project management of CJC and industry partnerships, for the improved programme delivery.
Social justice at work
Dr Seale labelled this partnership “social justice at work,” further committing to expand the network for bigger impact, over time.
According to Ms Michelle Buchler (far left below), Senior Manager in HELM, the CJC middle managers will be inducted into the CMDP before year end.
For Dr Linda Meyer, Director: Operations and Sector Support at USAf, this partnership represents the merging of two worlds. As a deliberate response to “industry complaints on the quality of our graduates, our investment needs to pay attention to building TVET products and in securing our youth’s future. Taking on strategic partners to strengthen the TVET sector speaks to the sector’s sustainability, which rests on these opportunities.”
As the launch ceremony drew to a close, Dr Oliver Seale declared that “we’re here for the longer haul. We see this as longer term, under the leadership of TVETs including SACPO. We’re all committed to the effective functioning of the post education and training sector because if it fails, our country fails.”
Ethics must be embedded into all professional training
As a related side issue, Ms Mookapele said she wished to see ethics being embedded into professional training of all disciplines within universities. A chartered accountant (CA) by profession, Ms Mookapele said she had been engaging the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) about integrating ethics to a larger extent (i.e. beyond just a module) into CAs’ training.
In response, Dr Meyer, who is USAf’s interface between USAf and SAICA, informed the EWSETA CEO of a project USAf was driving with SAICA to improve accountants’ training. Even though it takes two years to obtain new course accreditation from the Council on Higher Education, Dr Meyer assured Ms Mookapele that “this is true investment into changing the discourse.”
Also acknowledging a big disconnect between values and core business practices, Dr Seale said the HELM programme needed to find ways to build that into sectoral capacitation. “Ethical leadership is a characteristic that must be built into organisations’ value systems and cultures – no amount of teaching and preaching will embed that. We need to take it up as a collective.”
In addition, Dr Matutu mentioned another programme within the DHET, that seemed to be effective. “The issue of integrity is in the nature of the work that we do. We need to identify the core areas in Higher Education that we can embed ethics education in.”
Dr Meyer committed to facilitating further engagements with SAICA in this regard.
As a closing word, Dr Seale said he was excited to see the immediate alignment in thought and vision amongst the partners. “We appreciate that the CJC Administrator entrusted this programme to HELM and look forward to using this programme as a trigger and interlocutor for other programmes.”
‘Mateboho Green is USAf’s Manager: Corporate Communications