Higher Education and Training Minister Clarifies Purpose of FET Colleges Amendment Bill

Department of Higher Education and Training

Higher education and training minister Blade Nzimande has clarified the purpose of the Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges Amendment Bill.

Addressing members of the National Assembly when he presented the bill for a second reading debate, the minister said that – once promulgated – the bill would play an important role in “strengthening and re-positioning the FET college sector ... at the centre of skills development”.

It was hoped that, in turn, this would enable FET colleges to “absorb” the millions of young people “out of school” as well as those who had completed only a number of years in the school system.

“This legislation must be seen within the context of many other measures being undertaken by my department to strengthen and re-align institutions in the post-school education and training landscape,” minister Nzimande continued.

Of particular importance was “the closer alignment of FET colleges with employers, both in the public and private sector, the sector education and training authorities (SETAs), universities and the labour movement”.

According to the minister, the bill also seeks to “regularise” the employment of FET college staff in order to provide stability and stem the exodus of experienced and qualified staff from the sector. Existing employment conditions had made it “difficult” to achieve the important goal of building a skilled workforce.

Once promulgated, the bill would make the majority of FET college staff state employees (with conditions of service regulated in terms of the Public Service Act). Previously, many college staff had been employed by the colleges themselves: a situation resulting from an FET “landscape” which − before the establishment of a national department of higher education and training in 2009 − had been a provincial competency.

The bill was approved by the National Assembly on 20 September 2011 and referred to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for concurrence.

Sabinet Cape Town Office

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