THE MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND INNOVATION ADDRESS, PROF BLADE NZIMANDE, ON THE OCCASION OF THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE MSINGA CAMPUS IN KWAZULU-NATAL Friday, 24 November 2023

Programme Director: Mr Sam Zungu (DDG for TVET Colleges)

uMsinga Local Municipality Mayor, Cllr Dr Felinkosi Sikhakhane;

uMsinga Local Municipality Deputy Mayor, Cllr TB Mbatha;

uMsinga Local Municipality Speaker, Cllr SG Masimula;

All Councillors present;

Amakhosi wonke athamele lomcimbi;

DHET Acting Director General, Ms Thembisa Futshane;

DHET Deputy Director General for Skills Development, Mr Zukile Mvalo;

DHET Deputy Director General for Planning, Ms Nolwazi Gasa;

DHET Regional Manager for KwaZulu Natal Province, Mr Bheki Ngubane;

President of the South African College Principals Organisation, Prof Dipiloane Phutsisi;

uMgungundlovu TVET College Principal, Ms Ntombi Ntshangase;

Management of the College;

Chairpersons and CEO’s and officials of SETA’s present;

Student leadership present;

Officials from both my Department of Higher Education and Training and Department of Science and Innovation;

Members of the Media;

Distinguished guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen

Sanibonani

It gives me great pleasure to be part of this occasion today marking the official opening of the Msinga Campus of the Mngungundlovu TVET College.

As a department, we committed ourselves to strengthening and developing the PSET sector by investing in infrastructure to provide quality teaching, learning and research and innovation spaces.

Here we are today opening this state-of-the-art campus as part of our response to the community of Msinga who for a very long time requested that our department build and upgrade this college in response to the skills needs of the communities in this area.

Expansion of the TVET sector

My Department of Higher Education and Training has identified the expansion of the TVET sector as a national priority in the Post-School Education and Training (PSET) system.

Thirteen (13) new campuses were identified for development as well as three (3) existing campuses were identified for additional buildings.

We have embarked on this intense expansion programme to ensure that our post school education and training sector produce many technical and vocational skills and to also reinvigorate the South African construction industry and the economy in general.

As a Department, we have invested over R2.880 Billion in the development and refurbishment of sixteen (16) new TVET Campuses that will enable the expansion of the TVET system over the medium term.

Of the 16 sites, 10 campuses: Thabazimbi, Umzimkhulu, Graaf-Reinet, Nongoma Msinga, Aliwal North, Kwagqikazi, Ngqungqushe, Nkandla A and Bhambanani are completed and operational.

Three (3) new campuses: Greytown, Sterkspruit and Balfour are at their final stages of completion. The remaining three (3) sites of Vryheid, Giyani and Nkandla B will be completed by the end of the 2023/24 financial year with enrolments planned for 2024/25.

Today, I am here to officially handover the Msinga campus of the uMgungundlovu TVET college, which its construction is valued at R143 561 753.44.

I am delighted to indicate that this campus has commenced with formal programme provision at this new site last year in January 2022. Currently, there are three buildings on the campus. They include:

  • The administration block - that contains the offices, staff room, exam centre and the official reception site of the campus;
  • The theory building that consists of two computer laboratories that can accommodate up to 70 students each, as well as the double sized classrooms; and
  • The engineering block that consists of four workshops as well as smaller skills venues on the upper floor.

Current Programme provision at Msinga Campus

The campus commenced in 2022 to offer NATED programmes. These includes Nated Public Management  (N4-N6), Nated Business Management (N4 – N6) and Farming Management.

Last year (2022), the campus also commenced to offer a new National Certificate Vocational programme in Mechatronics L2- L4. I must say that this is a cutting edge 4IR programme.

Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field that refers to the skill sets needed in the contemporary, advanced automated manufacturing industry.

Mechatronics specialists work with massive industrial robots, smaller robots in pick-and-place operations, control systems for bottling or packaging of food and drink products, drones, designing control systems for rides in amusement parks, prototype development.

Some mechatronics specialists are employed in firms where it is necessary to design and maintain automatic equipment. This includes industries such as manufacturing, mining, aviation, robotics, defense, and transport.

Other mechatronic specialists are employed by large manufacturing companies involved in high-volume production.

I should that many new career opportunities are on the horizon due to technological advances.

To illustrate how financially lucrative a mechatronics career is, the average mechatronic engineer salary in South Africa is R360 000 per year or R 185 per hour.

Entry-level positions start at R300 000 per year, while most experienced workers make up to R4 050 000 per year and more.

We decided to offer this programme to the youth here at Msinga because we want this youth to be highly skilled and be able to compete at any level with the youth that is based in urban areas, including competing with the any youth at an international level.

Building a quality, diverse and responsive TVET College sector

Ladies and gentlemen

The vision and objective for our public TVET colleges sector as articulated in the national PSET plan is to expand and strengthen TVET sub-system in order to provide quality technical and vocational education and training to prepare students for the world of work (i.e., formal employment, self-employment and other forms of sustainable livelihoods).

However, we are constrained by skills ‘mismatches,’ real and perceived, towards our attainment of this noble objective, particularly our ability to grow our economy. This further perpetuates barrier to social inclusion and poverty reduction.

In response to this mismatch, we now have developed a one country one skills plan – the Master Skills Plan, which is an implementation plan of our Human Resource Development Strategy.

In order for our sector to investment in relevant skills development, we are also using the National List of Occupations in High Demand (OIHD) in South Africa, which is one of the many instruments that guides government’s investment in skills development.

This list has 345 occupations that are in high demand.

This list tells us which occupations are likely to have what vacancies and which occupations are likely to grow due to new investments, by both government and the private sector.

consequently, today we are here at Msinga to officially hand over this Campus with full confidence that the skills that students will acquire at this college will take them to greater heights with prospects of a successful career.

To further illustrate the commitment of this government to massify skills development, in 2018, we embarked on a campaign to launch 26 Centres of Specialisation located in 19 of our 50 TVET colleges, prioritising thirteen (13) occupational trades in high demand, with the aim of curbing the shortage of trade and occupational skills while reducing unemployment and poverty in our country.

These 26 centres were provided with resources to upgrade their workshops and equipment to deliver effectively on these much-needed skills.

These Centres of Specialisation are well positioned to prepare students for the workplace, or for self-employment, through the maintenance of close working relationships with employers in their areas of study.

We have also established entrepreneurship hubs at TVET Colleges to support students to move into self-employment after completion of their programmes.

Artisanal training

Another important campaign we launched in 2013, is the Decade of the Artisan campaign which promotes artisanship as a career of choice for our youth.

The  campaign was launched under the  theme “Its cool to be a 21st Century Artisan”.

The importance of this campaign is to ensure that we develop the necessary artisans to successfully implement our country’s Strategic Infrastructure Projects, which included the building of roads, schools, universities, harbours, power stations and other social and economic infrastructure.

The reality is that South Africa  needs at least 60% of school leavers to pursue artisanal type training to meet the country’s demand for scarce skills.

We honestly need to do more to encourage school leavers to pursue technical trades.

Our Government’s National Development Plan (NDP) and our White Paper for Post-School Education and Training expects of us that by 2030 the country should be producing 30 000 qualified artisans per year.

At present, our country is producing an average 20 000 qualified artisans per year. We therefore need to ensure that the number increase drastically leading up to 2030 for the country to realise the NDP target.

We however do believe that we are well on track to attain this goal and even surpass it.

The Msinga campus we are open today is very much part of this agenda and will help us greatly to produce more artisans.

With the current Eskom power generation challenges that we have, the work that we need to do to rehabilitate our works by filling in potholes, it is undisputed that we need more artisans than ever before.

This must tell all of us that the work of artisans in our economic development will always be guaranteed.

As Africans, we grew up believing that artisans were victims of the economy. They did not come to mind when talking about success or financial freedom.

We were taught that in order to make it in life, you have to be a lawyer, a medical practitioner, an engineer, a social worker - in other words to be a university graduate - otherwise you are a failure.

This mindset must change as this is not true! In fact, in some of our urban and metropolitan areas, qualified plumbers make more income than many professionals!

Our society failed to teach us that artisans play a vital role in the growth of the economy and in creating decent jobs.

Today we must make a U-turn in this understand and start to embrace technical and vocational skills training as part of our skills development drive.

Conclusion

As I conclude, today as we officially handover this campus, I want to encourage all the youth here in Msinga and in the entire region to make good use of this campus for their own personal development and that of their communities.

Government has made sure that it develops this infrastructure to see the children of the working class and the poor access education in order to better their lives and those of their families.

I would like you to work closely with the college management to protect this campus from any spoilers and those who might not want to see a black child develop and succeed.

Lastly, this week NSFAS has officially opened its application for the academic year 2023. The application season will close on the 31st January 2024.

I implore on all students who wish to study in any of the public universities and TVET Colleges to take this opportunity and apply for the NSFAS funding.

However, my caution is that, please do apply timeously - do not to wait for the last day to submit your application.

Again, student DON’T HAVE to wait for matric results in order to apply for NSFAS.

For this application period, there will be no supporting documents required at the time of application.

The reason for this is due to our improve third party relations. These third parties include SASSA, SARS and the Department of Home Affairs. They will be providing NSFAS with  information to verify what the student would have declared in the application.

The only time supporting documents will be required, is when prompted by NSFAS in case where they cannot verify the parental relationship. Communication will be sent directly by NSFAS to a student to initiate this process.  

Lastly, today, we are also joined by our SETAs, the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Department of Science and Innovation entities.

I again want to urge all our students to visit their exhibition stalls and get valuable information that will help in choosing a career path or in finding a job or a business opportunity.

My gratitude goes to my Department of Higher Education and Training, the Mngungundlovu TVET College, our SETAs, the contractors, the labour unions, uMgungundlovu TVET College students, Msinga high schools principals and all unnamed individuals and stakeholders who make this launch a success.

Thank you very much for all your hard work and efforts. As we are now approaching the festive season, let me take this opportunity to wish you a happy festive season and a prosperous new year.

Ngiyabonga

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