LMI programme > Publications

Contemporary issues in public FET colleges

Date posted:


Publication year:


Corporate author/s:

Labour Market Intelligence Partnership (LMIP), Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)

Person/s author/s:

Papier, Joy; Needham, Seamus; McBride, Timothy


working paper



This 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. An indication of the broader conceptual debates in established international systems of vocational education and training is provided to show that the questions we are grappling with in South Africa are not unique and will find traction within external discourses which are often polarised and strongly bifurcated. 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. 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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