Youth Month: West Coast College ensuring students are equipped for SA workforce

West Coast College, Atlantis campus, is ensuring its students are set up for much-needed careers. Picture: WCC

West Coast College, Atlantis campus, is ensuring its students are set up for much-needed careers. Picture: WCC

Published Jun 13, 2023


Cape Town – As South Africa commemorates Youth Month this June, we take a look at opportunities for our youth.

With technology at the forefront of our new world, West Coast College (WCC) is determined to equip youth with the skills they need for the fourth industrial revolution.

WCC is a public Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college with five campuses in Atlantis, Citrusdal, Malmesbury, Vredenburg and Vredendal.

Speaking to IOL, the Deputy CEO of Innovation and Development, Rhazia Hamza, said its list of programmes offered is dependent on a list of official programmes provided by the state, however, it picks from a list based on research on what is most needed in the country, region, industry and the communities it serves.

The electrical workshop at West Coast College. Picture: WCC

“The focus at the moment is on digital and related skills to meet job demands driven by the fourth Industrial Revolution as well as respond to the call for artisan development which aims to promote artisanship as a career of choice for South Africa’s youth as well as highlight skills development opportunities for artisans,” Hamza said.

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has generated lists of scarce and critical skills as well as of the occupations in high demand to guide the programme offerings and student enrolments.

According to Hamza, WCC takes its lead from the current scarce and critical list as well. However, not all ministerially funded programmes are on this list.

She said a range of occupational programmes are on offer and are mostly funded by Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and the National Skills Fund (NSF).

Currently, an extensive review of much of the TVET curricula is underway to ensure they remain relevant and current for the next several years.

WCC is funded by a fiscus and conducts a programme establishment with programmes offered by the state. A total of 80% of the programme is funded by the state.

The 4IR building under construction. Picture: WCC

WCC has a job placement programme.

“We endeavour to place students into industry to gain valuable experience. This occurs on a course or during the course depending on the programme, but then also on exit.

“National Accredited Technical Education Diploma (NATED) programmes require 18 months of theory at college and then upon completion, students do 18 months in industry. Once completed, they qualify for a National Diploma. During 2022, we placed a record number of 506 students in the industry.

“Occupational programmes are generally some days in the industry and some days of the week at the college, and during 2022, we had about 1 314 in these programmes.

“All existing students are specifically taken through a job-readiness programme with the aim of supporting the transition into the world of work,” Hamza said.

She said in 2017, DHET launched Centres of Specialisation (CoS) in more than 20 colleges focusing on 13 designated trades.

CoS Centres in the TVET College sector is a programme that aims to inform college differentiation, promote quality teaching and learning, facilitate responsiveness and provide a model for the implementation of QCTO’s trade qualifications at the same time as it develops artisanal skills, Hamza said.

WCC launched the CoS for Pipe-Fitting at its Vredenburg Campus and last year saw the trade testing of the first Pipe-fitter in South Africa.

Last year, WCC had a total of 10 286 students enrolled of which 1 314 were specifically occupation directed.

Of the many students attending the WCC, about 95% of the students are reliant on the state for bursaries for a 20% portion of the ministerially funded programmes.

The Atlantis campus caters to about 3 200 students annually, who mostly hail from Atlantis, Witsand, Mamre, Chatsworth, Darling, Du Noon and Killarney.

Public transport is limited along the West Coast and Hamza said the college, therefore, provisions transport from the college to various areas.

With support from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), transport services are provided for over 1 500 students using external transport providers.

The college has also recently announced the construction of a 4IR building which will be offering courses directed to Internet of Things, Robotics and Coding, Electronics and Mechatronics, Additive Manufacturing, 3D printing and more.

“Both at our Atlantis and Vredenburg campuses, we host a number of workshops and cutting-edge programmes in response to the needs of the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone, the Atlantis Special Economic Zone, etc.

“At our Atlantis campus for example, we have a Refrigeration and Air-conditioning workshop developed in partnership with the provincial government and the Bavarian government, whilst at our Vredenburg campus we have a world-class Welding Centre and Centre for Entrepreneurship and Rapid Incubation (CFERI).

“We have already launched programmes such as Additive Manufacturing and ECoded Welding. WCC is attempting to infuse 4IR into current offerings and complement the curriculum to make it relevant and current,” Hamza said.

She said the 4IR building is expected to be completed by the end of the year and training is set to commence during this year.

So, while many students may take the conventional route of study, taking a different direction may not be a bad idea.

“WCC strives to respond to our mission statement i.e. to ensure that all our programmes are relevant and current and that on exit, students are employable, can start their own businesses or articulate into further studies,” Hamza added.

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