Pretoria � Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has called on students to make use of opportunities to further their education so they can be successful and develop a skilled workforce for the country.
Speaking on Thursday during a media briefing in Pretoria, Minister Nzimande said there are approximately 505 731 opportunities that are available for young people within the Post-School Education and Training (PSET) system to further their studies.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will be funding 205 000 first-time entering and continuing eligible students at universities and 200 000 students at TVET colleges in 2017 by providing student loans and bursaries totalling R15.2 billion, Minister Nzimande said.
This year, South Africa's 26 public universities will provide access to about 197 400 new entrants wishing to pursue their studies across all general, technical and professional fields.
Included here are the three new universities: Sol Plaatje University (SPU), the University of Mpumalanga (UMP) and the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU), Minister Nzimande said.
He said out of the 197 400 new university entrants in 2017, about 63 950 students will be enrolling in scarce fields that include Engineering programmes, Life and Physical Sciences programmes, Human Health programmes and Veterinary Sciences programmes.
In pursuit of the department's mandate to increase access and success in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college learning programmes, and to transform TVET colleges into institutions of choice, three new campuses will come into operation during 2017, Minister Nzimande said.
These include Thabazimbi Campus at Waterberg TVET College in Limpopo; Bambanani Campus at uMfolozi TVET College in KwaZulu-Natal and Nkandla A Campus at uMfolozi TVET College in KwaZulu-Natal.
All in all, those who have completed Grade 12 with a minimum of a higher certificate achievement can consider studying further at one of the 50 public TVET colleges. In 2017, 207 510 new entrant opportunities will be provided by TVET colleges, he said.
According to Minister Nzimande, TVET colleges play a pivotal role in addressing South Africa's skills needs and cater for a wide spectrum and growing numbers of students.
Out of 610 178 Grade 12 learners who wrote their matric examinations, 162 374 learners are eligible for admission to Bachelor studies; 179 619 learners are eligible for admission to diploma studies and 100 486 learners are eligible for admission to higher certificate studies.
Learnerships, artisan opportunities
To this end, learners must continue to seek and utilise Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) or National Skills Fund (NSF) funded artisan learnerships or apprenticeship opportunities to access artisan training in the various fields of engineering and services areas, Minister Nzimande said.
Learners who have an inclination to become artisans can register at the National Artisan Development Support Centre (NADSC) by going to their website: http://nadsc.dhet.gov.za.
They can also call the NADSC Call Centre on 086 999 0125 or email copies of their qualifications to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
They can approach Student Support Services at any of the public TVET colleges or the Khetha Career Development Services at the department for more information.
It is critical to note that in order to be accepted into an artisan training programme, learners must have passed Mathematics with a minimum mark of 50% and a pass in Science.
Learners who pass but do not achieve the required achievement level in Mathematics and wish to consider a career as an artisan may also register for the Generic Trade Preparation Programmes, a bridging course for artisan training at NADSC, he said.
SETAs will be providing 100 821 learning programme opportunities in the form of 34 469 learnerships, 17 824 bursaries, 5 819 internships, 26 193 skills programmes, 9 486 work integrated learning and 7 030 apprenticeship opportunities.
The NSF will continue to invest in TVET colleges, funding approximately 15 000 learners per annum in occupationally directed programmes which are linked to scarce and critical skills areas.
All of this signals progress, but we cannot and should not do it all alone, Minister Nzimande said.
He called on business and State owned enterprises, municipalities and other employers to redouble their efforts, work with the department and ensure that as many young people as possible are afforded an opportunity to gain skills and make a life for themselves.
Source: South African Government News Agency