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Contemporary issues in public FET colleges: Towards credible institutional mechanisms for skills planning

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Corporate author/s:

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

Person/s author/s:

Needham, Seamus; Papier, Joy; Mbele, Nimrod


working paper



This concept paper provides a snapshot view of salient contemporary issues in public Further Education and Training (FET) colleges arising out of successive policy interventions since 1998. The paper does not dwell on early concomitant developments in education and training more generally, for example in higher education, skills development, schooling, SAQA and the National Qualifications Framework, as the current reconfiguration of the post-schooling sector is more relevant to the future of FET colleges and vocational education. Against the background of unresolved policy issues in colleges and relevant broader conceptual debates we introduce themes distilled from some of the extant research produced within South Africa, in the form of policy monographs, commissioned research and postgraduate studies. However, our local knowledge base is tiny compared with that of established vocational systems on these issues. We will have to begin the arduous task of building our research and knowledge base by drawing on lessons learned further afield and growing our research capacity to provide the robust empirical data that is so critically needed for establishing a dynamic, viable vocational education and training system which meets the needs of our most marginalized learners. Finally, the issues summarised in each of the main areas of the document from the various unresolved matters, the conceptual debates, and the themes in current literature, are taken together into a possible future research agenda that is reflective of the highlighted issues in each sector.

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