CLOSING THE SKILLS GAP: Buffalo City College setting an NSF benchmark in vocational skills training


South Africa’s current skills shortages have the potential to reverse any economic gains made so far from the global recovery. However, to move past rhetoric, there are examples in the local Further Education and Training (FET) sector that are showing the way forward.

One such example is East London’s Buffalo City Public FET College, which was established in 2002 and is showing that effective cooperation between government, educational and private sectors can create jobs and address the country’s current skills dilemma.

“We are well-positioned to cater for local industrial growth – and the economy, by equipping the youth with the right vocational and Nated skills that are desperately needed by this sector,” described Ash Singh, Principal at the college.

The college also recently successfully implemented its 2013 National Skills Fund (NSF) project in line with government’s effort to address the varied curriculum needs of FET colleges.

“Our first group of 45 students recently completed our short Bench Work Skills programme at the John Knoxx Bokwe campus.

“Feedback received from the learners is that they really enjoyed the programme and they now feel empowered and motivated to become employable graduates,” Singh elaborated.

“Subsequently, East Coast Asphalt approached us for a Fitter Trainee and we’ve provided them with a talent pool of the top 10 learners in that group.”

He said their Welding Skills Programme at the Master Artisan Academy SA (MAASA) had also been a success.

“The first group completed their training on 2 August and out of the 15 learners, 6 have already been called for interviews at Foxtec Solar. The second group is currently busy at MAASA and we are anticipating another positive response in terms of employment opportunities,” said Singh.

Under the Nated Electrical Engineering programme, conducted at the college’s St Marks Campus, 33 students have so far enrolled for the N2 Electrical Engineering course. Students who passed the N2 level will proceed to N3.

Buffalo City College also enjoys mutually beneficial relationships with businesses within its area.

“We have a very good working relationship with a number of local companies - including Mercedes Benz South Africa, who sponsored us with learning equipment for our student workshop, as well as Da Gama, Defy and Border Isuzu who offer our learners work placements for practical exposure,” described Singh.

Consequently, the college has placed 30 learners through a Fitting and Machining learnership and 29 for a Welding learnership with MAASA while another 27 were in Automotive learnership within the college. All these learnerships are at NQF level 2.

Buffalo City College can be contacted on 043 722 5453 or via email [email protected].