These are indeed difficult and unpredictable times for industries throughout the globe.
The terrible knock in economic growth, reflected in the massive growth in unemployment numbers and the dramatic drop in consumer behaviour, has spared no company and no country.
The SETAs, too, have been affected. The skills levy payment holiday announced by the President at the start of the lockdown in March will have some negative implications, but in keeping with a ministerial directive, we continue stipends for learners.
It is important to note that the 2020 academic year in the Technical and Vocational Education and training sector has been restructured.
The minister has provided the following tentative return dates:
NATED Trimester (ENGINEERING) students
N6 & N3: 10 June
N5 & N2: 15 June
N4 & N1: 22 June
NATED Semester (BUSINESS STUDIES) students
N6: 25 June
N5: 29 June
N4: 06 July
Level 4: 13 July
Level 3: 20 July
Level 2: 27 July
Several TVET colleges have already developed learning materials both for TV and radio broadcasts available through the DHET website. These initiatives will continue beyond the return of students to campuses.
Furthermore, all students who will not have returned to campuses in June and July will also be supported remotely until they return to campus according to the phase-in process.
TVET colleges are using textbooks, e-Guides, past question papers, and uploaded YouTube videos to assist students. These are supported through bulk text messages from colleges and WhatsApp groups set up by lecturers.
In addition, Indlela has implemented fresh ways for trade tests to continue without breaking the COVID-19 regulations.
A strong suit of our sector is the inter-connectedness of the supply chain process. This has a wholesome impact on training in all value creation processes.
As the intermediary between the education and training and the manufacturing and engineering sectors, the merSETA has forged strong inter-organisational and company relationships that will stand the test of time.
These relationships span decades. While there is likely to be a decline in the number of training opportunities in the immediate future, economies are bound to bounce back once the pandemic is under control and lockdown restrictions are lifted.
So, we should never take our eyes off the ball when it comes to skilling our workforce and students.
On behalf of the merSETA, I wish to applaud those companies that have stepped into the breach caused by the short-supply of personal protection equipment. In particular, we appreciate those companies that have re-engineered production processes to manufacture face-marks, gloves, ventilators as well as launching emergency field hospitals.
It once again shows the agility of companies in the mer-SECTOR.
We have taken a huge hit, but we also have strong shock absorbers.
‘Till next month!
merSETA Acting CEO