The future of work and the implications for South African TVET colleges

13 Nov, 2020 12:00 pm
Presented by:


The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on schools and universities have been widely debated in the media and in the public discourse. In comparison, there has been a virtual silence around the implications of COVID-19 for the South African TVET colleges. This is deeply concerning as our TVET colleges are positioned as central to addressing social inequalities and high levels of poverty and youth unemployment.

In this presentation, I hope to address this silence by opening debate on what COVID-19 might mean for the TVET colleges in the medium and long term. Critical to this discussion is the high number of formal sector job losses or what the media has been terming ‘the jobs bloodbath’. The jury is still out on the extent of job losses in different sectors but there is universal agreement that COVID-19 will be pushing a growing proportion of South Africa’s workers into the informal and SME sectors to make their livelihoods. Against this backdrop, I argue that responding to the education and training needs of these sectors has become a critical imperative for TVET colleges.

The presentation draws from a study undertaken with MerSETA called the Lived Livelihoods Study which aimed to understand the way(s) in which young people from two urban townships in Port Elizabeth are making their livelihoods in engineering related areas in the informal sector. The findings challenge our understandings of entrepreneurship, occupations, skills and what has become known as education to work pathways. It suggests that engaging with the implications of COVID-19 for TVET colleges will demand tackling the implications of the fourth industrial revolution for these sectors. It would also mean engaging with how we understand the notion of skills, what we define as an occupation, what we understand when we talk about the tools of particular trades and how we understand pathways from school to TVET and from TVET to work. Mainly, and importantly, it compels and propels us towards opening debate on what it might mean to talk about a responsive TVET college in the South Africa context.


Dr Lesley Powell, Research Chair: Youth Unemployment, Employability and Empowerment, Nelson Mandela University


Dr Francis Muronda, Researcher to the Research Chair: Youth Unemployment, Employability and Empowerment Ms Shawn Tini, Junior Researcher to the Research Chair: Youth Unemployment, Employability and Empowerment

Date: 13 November 2020
Time: 12h00-13h30
Zoom link: