Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande said Work-integrated learning (WIL) remains an integral part of most of South Africa’s Post School Education and Training (PSET) system offerings.
He said it is crucial to have a fresh new look at WIL and how to make it practically possible and less bureaucratic, adding that the workplace is an essential site of learning and it is critical to be able to bring PSET to the workplace, and the workplace to PSET.
Addressing the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) Virtual Conference organised by Fuze Business Initiative, Dr Nzimande said the country needs the inversion of TVET education, a sea change to have students coming to college as apprentices in the workplace, as opposed to an academically based model.
“In addition, I intend availing some government resources to support and harness innovation in the TVET college sector through, amongst other things, the establishment of technology stations in colleges. We have to think of more innovative ways using the 4IR of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, augmented reality, simulations and automation.”
“We cannot afford to just pour more and more money into education and training, we have to think smarter, get much more innovative ideas and get much more done with reprioritising current budgets and most important – get young people to graduate from the PSET system that can live a life in the 4IR.”
He also calls for the country to relook at accreditation and quality assurance systems.
“We have to allow students to accumulate ‘stackable micro-credentials’ throughout a lifelong learning trajectory, which they can acquire while moving in and out of the education system and the workplace and through a diverse, and growing, range of educational modalities enabled by technologies and WIL.”
“One thing that COVID-19 has taught us is that we have to support augmented/remote student learning through a variety of teaching and learning methodologies. This was not possible a year ago, because we were still very much in the talk-and-chalk mode. I want to emphasise, multi-modal teaching, learning and assessment is not an option for universities and TVET colleges any more, it is a necessity. Everyone in the PSET, from universities, TVET and CET colleges to skills development programmes and WIL must embark on modes of educational delivery that embrace the principles of open learning, as outlined in current PSET policies.”
“Moreover, where policies and legislation are not in support of the 4IR, we must, as the President’s Commission on 4IR has recommended, urgently revise and adapt them to be aligned with the 4IR.”
Dr Nzimande said infrastructure advancement and development were key to the 4IR and to develop integrated delivery models that work broader than individual institutions – at district and regional levels.
“PSET institutions in common localities and working in the same areas have to work with each other, with public and private enterprises, with social structures, with the communities they serve, and with local, district and provincial government to create articulated, seamless, responsive education and development opportunities,” he said.
“We have to think about sharing learning and teaching materials and support the open educational resource (OER) movement, we have to share infrastructure, expertise and systems. Duplication remains a very costly and ineffective way of educating the masses.”
According to the Future of Jobs Report of 2018, there is a major shift in future jobs. Lots of high tech jobs are on the horizon like Data Analysts and Scientists; AI and Machine Learning Specialists; Big Data Specialists; New Technology Specialists and Software and Applications Developers and Analyst.
“However, is interesting, alongside Robotics Specialists and Engineers you will find jobs like People and Culture Specialists; Client Information and Customer Service Workers and Client Information and Customer Service Workers. We have to fill the whole spectrum of the job market – we are not going to replace people with machines, we are going to make people better workers using innovative technologies.”