Understanding and highlighting skills shortages and the role of FET colleges

In a recent article published by Solidarity they pointed out the need for our youth to consider attending FET colleges. Further Education and Training Colleges or FET colleges are different to universities in that they offer many of the essential courses to ensure the achievement of the skills and training needed that are essential to the South African Economy.

South Africa is in need of Educated, qualified and experience people with the right skills to assist in growing the economy of SA.

Currently there are in excess of 500000 positions vacant in South Africa but surprisingly, according to solidarity, there are insufficient trained and qualified people to fill these vacancies.

Consider these facts
South Africa has 1 engineer for every 3200 people compared to 1 for every 130 in china- 250 in Europe and 450 in Australia.
The government’s list of scarce and critical skills shows that there is a shortage of 400000 teachers in all subjects which includes teachers at FET colleges.
In 2008 there was a shortage of 22000 accounting specialists – 5300 of whom should be chartered accountants. There are 70000 positions available in Information Technology but only 17000 learners have qualified over the last 10 years.
There is a need for 30000 registered nurses and 10000 pharmacy assistants.

So why are more of our learners not applying for positions at FET colleges? Is it a lack of information or is there a stigma attached to them? Only the youth can comment on this.

Further education and training takes place at any time from grades 10 to 12. At this level there is a need for career counselling and orientation or our youth should be encouraged to approach FET Colleges for more information. At this level it is quite common for learners to want to study for a diploma or certificate course. Diplomas and Certificates should not as far as I am concerned be offered by Universities or studied by Higher Education Candidates.

The Department of Education is offering bursaries for FET college education and training. In addition the Career Advice Services managed by SAQA is offering career advice through its helpline. Call 0860111673 or you can e-mail You can also send and SMS to 072 204 5056 and an advisor will call you back.

Des Squire (Managing Member)


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Comment by Des Squire on February 1, 2012 at 10:07

Here is some up to date information on Bursaries and loans

The national Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)  is a government agency that has been set up to assist students in terms of the NSFAS Act of 1999. 

Its main function is to provide loans and bursaries to deserving students who need financial assistance to pay for their studies at Public FET Colleges and Public Universities.

Note I say “deserving students”, in other words you do not automatically qualify for such loans and bursaries.

I also said “Public FET Colleges and Public Universities” which means students at “Private FET Colleges” and/or Private Universities do not qualify.  

Any learner can apply wo is 

      A South African Citizen

      Enrolled for undergraduate studies

      Registered at a Public FET or University

      Have a household income of less than R122000 per annum

      If the parents are not employed the learner must must submit an affidavit (sworn Statement) to that effect 

The funds if granted will be paid directly to the institution of learning and will not be paid to you directly. When you start earning in excess of R30000 per annum you will be expected to repay this loan.

Learners should follow this process

      Apply to the institution of learning for admission. It is IMPORTANT to check with them on their specific processes and specific requirements

      For any queries contact the financial aid office at the university or college campus.

Contact NSFAS at 021 763 3232 or SMS your questions to 32261 or e-mail them at 

If a learener want to become a teacher they should look at the following website

Comment by Wilma de Villiers on January 31, 2012 at 18:44

I am busy with a masters, Adult Education & Globalisation.  Currently we are busy with a module, "Work and Learning'.  We have many readings and discussions around the topic of skills and education.  If you google "Hugh Lauder" and "Elaine Wood" you will find interesting articles and video-clips on 'you-tube' that link to this topic.

Comment by Wilma de Villiers on January 31, 2012 at 18:41

Dr Nic, there are also post-matric courses offered at FET colleges.

Comment by Dr. Nic J Neveling on January 31, 2012 at 17:49

Des, I read your document.  I would have liked to see that you say more about the FET Colleges than what you did.  Sure Gr 10-12 falls in the FET band, and this is exactly where the problem starts.  The FEt Colleges also operates in the same band.  They offer the NCV currucula, and this is what is happening:  a student does gr 12, what must he/she do at a FET college.  There is nothing but going back to level 2, which by the way is equivalant to Gr10.  The FET College do start the learners at level 2 even if they have Gr12.  Fortunately the dept has brought back the NATED (N) courses, now learners can advance to N6.  The N6 diploma is on NQF6.  Unfortunately the dept does not advertise this.  Mum is the word from them.


Comment by David Screen on January 31, 2012 at 14:07

Interesting Des, But isn't it amazing how we go over the same ground year after year! The scarce skills shortage in South Africa grows annually and every year there's another conference or a call from Government for schools, business whatever to get involved, but nobody ever does anything! And that I believe is where the greatest problem lie - the skills shortage and lack of capacity lies exactly in the domains that should be driving the process - in government and in business. In business I believe it's a lack of will and in Goverment it's plain incapacity.

i have solutions but maybe some feedback first.    

Comment by Dr. Deon Landmann on January 31, 2012 at 13:49


Thank you for your interesting articles and insight! I enjoy reading them. today I have a favour to ask: May I use some of your stats (with reference to you) in our newsletter?

I am the Education, Training & Transformation officer at the GMBA.

Kind regards,


Comment by Thulisile Madela on January 31, 2012 at 11:56

It's a good thing that government is offering bursaries for FET colleges but it doesn't end there, what about training centres where they should complete their careers as artisans, at my work we've been waiting for bursaries from services seta for more than 18 months now, we don't know whats taking so long, we have all the accreditation they asked for and we've worked with them before successfully but now getting the bursaries from them is 1 hell of a job

Comment by Dr. Lourens Ferreira on January 31, 2012 at 10:48

Hi , Can someone please help me with the following questions from a PRIVATE COLLEGE who want to start implementing SETA LEVEL 1 courses.

  1. Where must they start to register as ET provider?  With HET , Umalusi, SETA’s, QCTO, SAQA . Which one ?
  2. What procedures must they follow, what is the first step , second, third  etc.  
  3. How long will all take before they can start training?
  4. How must will all this cost them to set up and run ? 



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