CLASSROOM MEETS INDUSTRY: Workplace based experience now a priority at PE College

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - AUGUST 14, 2014

In order to address a dire skills shortage in local industry and business – sometimes caused by a mismatch of the courses to the actual skills needs of employers, Port Elizabeth College (PE College) is now focusing on combining its classroom training with Workplace Based Experience (WBE).

“Port Elizabeth College is engaged in initiatives with Swiss-South African Cooperation Initiative (SSACI) and Joint Education Trust / Department of Higher Education and Training (JET / DHET) to align the National Certificate (Vocational) more closely with the needs of industry and fostering sustainable college – industry partnerships,” explains the institution.

The college says previous work experience is often requested in employment adverts making it very difficult for fresh, inexperienced graduates to be hired.

“With the implementation of WBE, it would be possible for students to confidently enter the working world based on the workplace experience gained while they are studying.  The main goal of WBE is to produce employable students,” describes the college.

“Another outcome from this is to encourage graduates to become self-employed.”

Previously, PE College has placed learners in a few industries which has really benefited the college and the students.

“Some of our programmes – for example; Hospitality, Tourism and Safety in Society, have placed their learners in companies related to their studies for the past few years and have established good relationships with these industries thus making permanent placements much easier once the learner has graduated,” describes the college.

“WBE is not only for learners but benefits lecturers too, allowing them to keep up to date with technology and the latest developments in industry. The purpose is for lecturers to gain industry exposure and match the curriculum to the need of the industry.  Everyone is benefiting from WBE.”

The WBE programme is based on a cyclical process that involves four stages:  Planning, Preparation, Placement and Post Placement and will be repeated for each round of student placements. Each working space is a learning space!

“For the implementation of the WBE, we are counting on our stakeholders to be actively involved as each one will play a key role in contributing to success,” the college says, adding, “A powerful keynote address at the launch of the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations stated; ‘…we know that college training is on its own not enough. If workplace learning does not compliment the learning done at colleges, we could well find the youngsters we work so hard to train remain unemployed after they qualify’”.