Jobs and the young – Do these learning centres really work?

2012-07-14 12:22

It is very disturbing to read week after week of a sector that is dogged by a reputation of incapability, inefficiency, maladministration and corruption.

Opinions bandied about by ­“experts”, and Charl du Plessis’ generalisation about graduates from further education and training (FET) colleges who have great difficulty in securing employment, all serve to create a perception of the poor state of these colleges.

The linear method of reasoning – where a student enrols at an FET college, acquires a qualification and walks out of the college into a job, which is implied in your article (June 24) in order for colleges to “fix our futures” – is not realistic.

First of all, I need to point out that there is a historic “troublesome” relationship between education and employment because of the incongruity between the world of work and the world of education.

In my view, the problem of unemployment originates from the basic functioning of the economic,social and political institutions of society, which are monopolistic and exploitative in nature.

In the 1960s, the US government pumped billions into educational programmes to alleviate unemployment and poverty.

Academics concluded that it was not successful because the reason for poverty and unemployment derived not from an inability, lack of skills or education, but from the monopolistic capitalistic system in place.

This brings into sharp focus the disjuncture between educational attainments, aspirations, labour market opportunities and the

contribution of education to this aspect of economic development.

Education should not be seen as having any purpose other than education.

We have to realise that there is a complex and multidimensional interplay between a number of factors that determine whether an economy can create sufficient employment opportunities to employ jobseekers.

The Centre for Higher Education Transformation’s report earlier this year states that because of a poor image, a minority of FET college graduates find employment.

But findings in other studies are diametrically opposed.

Botshabelo Maja and Michael Cosser of the Human Sciences Research Council, along with Gender Education and Women Empowerment, conducted a study of employer satisfaction with college graduates and student satisfaction with college education.

Their findings were a general satisfaction among employers and students.

I do not wish to come across as if there is absolutely nothing wrong in the FET college sector.

However, I think it is time for people in the sector to tell their own stories, otherwise those from outside will continue to speak as if they are experts. – Dr CF Barnes

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