Students urged to broaden horizons

With a limited number of places available at universities in the province, the Master Builders Association of the Western Cape (MBAWC) is calling on students to look at other options, such as vocational training, to further their education.

MBAWC group skills facilitator Tony Keal says Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges have been spared the upheaval that other institutions of higher learning have experienced with the #FeesMustFall protests and the 8 percent university fee increase for 2017.

“Furthermore, they are 80 percent subsidised by the government, meaning that the fees are affordable. There is a worldwide demand for the kinds of skills taught at these colleges, and, in some countries, tradespeople like electricians and plumbers earn more than doctors and lawyers.”

The MBAWC has offered apprenticeship programmes for the past 12 years, giving those with Grade 9 and above the opportunity to build on their academic foundations and establish a vocational career.

Not only does the organisation fund their training and place them with members in order to put their theoretical knowledge into practice, it also pays them a wage as determined by the Building Industry Collective agreement.

Trish van der Merwe, deputy principal of innovation and development at Northlink College, said many were ignorant of the need for such scare skills or the opportunities they offered.

“Not only will they make a difference in the unemployment situation, they will be playing an important role in the services and the economy of their communities. Youth often think the white-collar jobs are the more prestigious yielding the best income. The regular updates on Career Junction show that the services of the blue collar (labour intensive jobs) are, in many cases, more lucrative, and there are enough employment opportunities and self-employment is also possible,” she said.

Northlink College has seven campuses across the city, offering about 80 different programmes in a wide variety of career fields, such as business studies, social services, clothing production, as well as mechanical, electrical, building and construction and civil engineering programmes.

Mr Keal said those choosing vocational training could get nationally recognised qualifications that could help them find a job anywhere in the country.

MBAWC is a registered trade association for employers in the building industry. Its membership comprises some 400 companies in the Western Cape, most of whom are either builders, building subcontractors or manufacturers of building products.

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