‘The practical nature of the course was very refreshing’
Florus Prinsloo is a Mentor in Leadership and Lifelong Learning as well as a Developer for Quality Apprenticeship Systems in South Africa. Last autumn, he completed the course 'Quality VET in Switzerland – how and why it works' as part of SFUVET’s International VET Academy programme.
Interview: Marina Grolimund
Mr Prinsloo, what drives you personally to promote dual VET in South Africa?
VET is recognised by many people in South Africa as a significant factor in reducing unemployment, especially among young people. Unemployment between the ages of 15-24 currently stands at around 60 per cent. In my view the more dual the VET system is the better the chances of young people becoming employed. It is this exposure to the labour market that I believe gives real value to learning, and of course it also allows young people to earn some money themselves.
Are you already seeing effects?
Yes, but in very limited numbers. However, this is more a consequence of limited actual labour market opportunities being created by employers, especially private industry, rather than the lack of desire by young people to take up these opportunities. As the economy grows, this situation will hopefully correct itself.
Most companies are very much in favour of developing apprenticeships but are hampered in most cases by the sluggish economic growth of the company. Where companies do take part in the apprenticeship system, they need a considerable amount of financial support. This support is available in the form of grants and tax allowances but favours large and/or profitable companies.
What was particularly interesting for you in the course about the VET system in Switzerland?
The practical nature of the course with multiple, daily visits to actual sites of implementation like schools, companies and training centres was very refreshing. There was limited classroom time and that underscored the dual nature of learning in Switzerland. However, what stood out for me were the guidance counselling offices and how they help young people and parents from a very early age of 12-14 years to start thinking about their future careers. This early exposure to the vagrancies of the labour market is an immensely valuable experience for young people and sadly very lacking in South Africa.
What was the most helpful learning for you during this course week?
I have been aware for some time of the integrated nature of the Swiss learning system but what I did not know was the upward progression possible through learning while still working.
- Marina Grolimund, MSc, scientific collaborator, International Relations, SFUVET