The Department contracted the University of the Western Cape (UWC), through the Institute for Post-School Studies (IPSS) to undertake a Five Year Research Programme on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). The programme is funded by the National Skills Fund (NSF). The programme commenced in April 2019.

The aim of this programme is therefore to build a significant local body of knowledge that can inform TVET policymakers, practitioners, prospective employers, learners and their communities, about the inputs, practices, performance and outcomes of public TVET Colleges, with a view to enhancing knowledge and understanding for planning and delivery of interventions towards continuous improvement.

Overall Objective of the Research Programme:

To enable the TVET College system to realise its potential to build and uplift communities, combat inequality, poverty and unemployment and contribute to a sustainable and just economy that can provide for all South Africans’ needs through full participation in the local and global economy.

Specific Objectives of the Five Year Programme:

  • Improve information on the TVET College system: Provide TVET policy, planning and practice with the kind of information and data that it needs for evidence-based reflection through the consolidation and production of contextually relevant and useful basic research;
  • Establish sustainable research processes: Establish research methodologies and instruments that are adapted to the South African TVET context and realistic means for the future adoption and expansion, including capacity building of Masters and PhD students and developing the TVET field;
  • Link research to policy and practice: Support iterative processes that enable policy and practice to be informed by reliable and credible research; and
  • Capacity Building: Capacity building in the programme occurs at two levels: at a policymaker level the programme will seek to build a robust knowledge base with accessible methodologies which can be utilised by the DHET to institutionalise its research capabilities going forward. At the level of knowledge building, projects will recruit postgraduate students into the programme and will endeavour to link students’ research to projects in this proposal.

Research projects are grouped thematically as follows:

  • An overview of the TVET College sector: Critical issues are defined as well as key theoretical approaches utilised for TVET research that provide a rationale for this five year Research Programme.
  • Responsiveness of TVET Colleges to the world of work: At its heart, TVET is and must always be about preparation for the word of work. However, it is essential to conceive of this in a dynamic and critical way that both learns from the challenges faced in addressing this over the past 25 years and which understands work as both broad and changing. This theme covers the following projects: Mapping of employment in relation to TVET College locations; Analysis of College Programme Qualification Mix (PQM) responsiveness to potential work; Curriculum relevance and responsiveness of College programmes; Partnerships between Colleges and the world of work; Destinations of College graduates; and Employer perceptions of TVET graduates and curricula.
  • Access and Demand for TVET and Evaluation of TVET Colleges: Whilst preparation for the world of work is paramount, it is essential that attention be given to the needs and aspirations of learners; to how many of their lives have been shaped by poverty and inequality; and to how TVET must support them in becoming responsible adults and active citizens. These areas of the research therefore investigates the following: Student demand for TVET Colleges; TVET National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding issues; Dropout and retention in TVET Colleges; Student performance; Student sentiment analysis; Student satisfaction; Evaluation of TVET College governance; Evaluating TVET College accommodation; Rural/urban classification of TVET Colleges; and finally a TVET college barometer based on data from the research within this thematic area.
  • Teaching and Learning in TVET: Colleges and the system as a whole must improve both on the efficiency of their resource use and on the effectiveness of their overall contribution to society and economy. Sustainable Developed Goal (SDG) Four acknowledges that quality lifelong learning for all cannot be achieved without quality teaching. Challenges in all these areas are particularly acute in TVET globally. This theme addresses a number of aspects of that impact on teaching and learning in TVET Colleges as follows: Assessment in TVET; Costs of delivery of TVET programmes; Quality of learning and teaching at TVET Colleges; and Practical work at Colleges.
  • TVET College Lecturer Development: Quality teaching cannot be achieved without a supply of lecturers who are well-qualified, well-motivated and well-remunerated. Given the importance of lecturer development, this theme covers the following key research issues: The quality of lecturing staff; Forecasting lecturer supply and demand in TVET Colleges; Pre-service education and training of TVET lecturers; Professionalisation of TVET College lecturers; Performance management and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of TVET staff; and TVET post provisioning norms and a Revised remuneration structure.
  • Private Colleges is regarded as a discrete theme in its own right given the very different nature and status of private providers compared with public providers.
  • Capacity Building is prioritised within this Research Programme through the provision of postgraduate Masters and PhD programmes to address the strengthen research capacity within the TVET sector. DHET staff will also be included within capacity building processes that enable staff to coordinate and disseminate TVET research processes for effective governance.