Leveraging SETAs to bring Colleges and Employers Closer Together
The CSTO initiative is an official Department of Higher Education & Training (DHET) project to improve the employability of TVET students.
The Lead Seta Offices Project was initiated in 2012 with the realisation that Setas were closer to the labour market and had better employer relationships than TVET colleges. They also had funding to incentivise employer participation, yet they were often working in isolation of colleges that housed the bulk of the future youth workforce. By identifying a “lead Seta” for each college, and setting up a physical office on campus, it was hoped that TVETs would be drawn closer to the labour market.
With the appointment of JET Education Services to support the project, a research study was commissioned in 2016 and resulted in a formal theory of change and guidelines for Coordinating Seta – TVET Offices (the new name for the expanded project). With funding from FP&M Seta, nine pilot sites were established in 2017, with six participating Setas, and JET is currently busy with an evaluation report which may lead to rolling out the project to all Seta and TVET colleges.
WorkFit is supporting JET in the conceptualisation of the CSTO project, using the DDT research framework and WorkFit Toolkit as a basis. WorkFit brings a welcome tactical level of detail to the work of building youth employability, as a holistic solution needs to go beyond institutional arrangements and penetrate to the level of actual practices on the ground.
The CSTO project represents an important entry point for employers to understand the public TVET skills pipeline, and build partnerships where risk can be minimised while gaining access to a larger talent pool. Setas will potentially bring incentives and capacity to resolve blockages which was previously lacking in TVET – employer projects. DHET oversight will potentially bring faster resolution to problems, and also give real-time feedback to policy makers about improvements to the enabling environment which need to be made.
This article was originally drafted by WorkFit as input to the BPeSA Sector Skills Strategy 2019.