UWC Hosts Inaugural SETA Forum, Strengthening Ties for Skills Development and Education

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) recently hosted the inaugural forum of Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs), marking a significant milestone in integrating higher education and skills development in South Africa.

This event underscored the critical role that SETAs play in bridging the gap between academic learning and practical workforce needs.

SETAs are instrumental in aligning educational programs with the labour market’s demands. They ensure that students acquire relevant skills that enhance their employability and meet the evolving needs of various industries. By fostering strong partnerships between universities, vocational colleges, and employers, SETAs reduce unemployment and promote economic growth.

A total of 21 SETAs were invited to the stakeholder engagement, which created a platform for all parties to discuss current and possible partnership opportunities that can benefit UWC and its students.

UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor Professor Tyrone Pretorius, during his keynote address, highlighted the importance of sustainable relations with SETAs

“We acknowledge with this event that the various sectors have contributed significantly to funding undergraduate and postgraduate bursaries. In recent years, funding has helped hundreds of our students to complete their studies. The financial assistance that we have been able to provide our students through your assistance has given them the resources they need to excel academically. As an institution, due to your support, we have seen a notable increase in our graduation throughput rates. And as you have heard, many students are making significant contributions not only to their fields of employment but also to society,” said Prof Pretorius.

The Rector’s comments follow a SETA skills summit held in April this year by former Higher Education, Science, and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande.

According to media reports, Nzimande emphasised the importance of SETAs in the higher education landscape. He highlighted how SETAs facilitate community engagement and create synergies between academia and society, which is vital for social upliftment and progress.

Nzimande pointed out that SETAs are crucial for aligning training efforts with the needs of employers, thereby ensuring that graduates are well-prepared for the job market.

The story of Abongile Mhlanjeni, a UWC employee and SETA beneficiary, showcased these funding institutions’ critical importance and life-changing impact.

“Funding changed my life in a very impactful way because I didn’t have a plan on how I would pay for my tuition. There was no plan, to be just honest. Also, in terms of living expenses, there was no plan around that. It was just my deep desire to further my studies and passing. Coming along and providing all the funding meant that I could focus on my studies and ensure that I could finish the qualification. And when I finished the qualification, I finished debt-free,” said Mhlanjeni.

The inaugural forum at UWC is expected to strengthen the relationships between universities and SETAs, fostering an environment where academic excellence and practical skills development go hand in hand.

As a result, UWC has fostered good relations with certain SETAs, including The Local Government Sector Education Training Authority (LGSETA), which provides an environment to facilitate the training and upskilling of various employees and people involved in local government structures and unemployed South Africans.

LGSETA CEO Ineeleng Molete, who has a long-standing history with UWC, said the values of the Historical Disadvantaged Institution (HDI) speak directly to LGSETA’s goals and mandate.

Molete said: “One of the key aspects of the SETAs through the National Skills Development Plan is collaboration; for us, it is important because we are reporting in the same ministry. Post-schooling agencies must work together to uplift communities and ensure that we’ve got a capable workforce that can transform their communities and families and, most importantly, grow the economy of South Africa. So the collaboration between LGSETA and UWC is important because one UWC is one of those old institutions that has been a bridge between the poor and the middle class in a Western Cape.”

In conclusion, Professor Anesh Singh, Director of Institutional Advancement, applauded the strides made in growing the country’s workforce due to partnerships between higher education institutions and SETA stakeholders.

He used the platform to highlight how much they have invested in the future of UWC and its students.

“About 35% of the funding currently raised by UWC stems from SETA’s, with more than 60% directed at bursaries. We are a historically disadvantaged institution, and as a result, we have students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. We try to enable them to access higher education, succeed, and take their place in society. We are proud to say that our alums dot the world all over; we are around the globe and make a difference in development and the economies in which they operate. We, however, also have to serve SETAs to provide graduates with skills to make a difference, and therefore, we require support for our infrastructure,  equipment, and teaching and learning resources. These are discussions we hope will progress further,” Prof Singh explained.

Source:  University of the Western Cape