Minister of Higher Education and Training, Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize,
Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Mr Buti Manamela,
Head of the HRDC Secretariat, Ms Brenda Ntombela,
CEO of the Automotive Industry Development Centre, Dr David Masondo,
Members of the HRDC,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Human Resource Development Council, I wish to convey heartfelt gratitude to Dr Masondo and his team at the Automotive Industry Development Centre for their hospitality in hosting us today.
Our tour earlier of the learning centre is a source of inspiration and hope.
We are moved to see for ourselves that there is great work being undertaken by committed South Africans like you to build the capabilities of our people and grow our economy.
In a very practical way, you are demonstrating the vital link between human resource development and the growth of effective, competitive and sustainable industry.
You are proving the important point that among the many things that make an industrial development strategy succeed, everything rests on having the right people with the right skills.
In a sense, this training centre illustrates the value and importance of a national multi-sectoral body like the HRDC – which coordinates the vital work necessary to build a skills base suitable to the needs of a developing economy.
If South Africa is to successfully overcome the economic legacy of apartheid, if we are to raise the living standards of all our people, we need to be innovators, producers and manufacturers.
We cannot afford to be mere consumers of goods and services.
As a home of manufacturing, innovation and enterprise development, this centre offers a path to a new economy.
We applaud the Automotive Industry Development Centre for its efforts to keep our local automotive industry globally competitive.
We also applaud the Gauteng provincial government and the South African automotive industry for demonstrating commitment and for working together to ensure that we build a successful industry that attracts investment, develops the capabilities of our youth, creates jobs and builds successful businesses.
There are many lessons to be drawn from the work that is done here, particularly in the technical and vocational education and training sector.
We will leave here more determined that industry should provide experiential learning to learners in TVET colleges much earlier.
We will leave here more determined that companies should get involved in our Adopt-a-TVET College initiative on a far larger scale.
When industry and training institutions work collaboratively, our youth will be better prepared to succeed in a world that values competiveness and experience.
Among other things, Council will today spend a great deal of time looking at ways to improve the educational outcomes of the TVET sector, which has been identified in the National Development Plan as vital in developing the artisan skills needed by our economy.
We therefore look forward to today’s presentations on the establishment of the HRDC TVET Imbizo, the support of TVET Colleges Initiative and the status of Post-School Education Institutions and Industry Partnerships.
South Africa will not work if the TVET sector is broken.
We will not create the jobs we need if the sector lacks a common vision, underperforms, is under-resourced and is perceived to be corrupt.
As we meet, we have learned that labour, led by NEHAWU, is planning to march to the Department of Higher Education and Training on the 21st of November to raise what it believes are the unresolved challenges facing the TVET sector.
Issues that NEHAWU is raising include non-issuing of certificates for students, outsourcing of services and review of the current funding model.
We hope that today’s focus on the sector will begin to assist the HRDC and the Department of Higher Education and Training to formulate a response that will give South Africans hope and confidence in the future of the TVET sector.
We welcome the fact that the issue of South African sign language and deaf education is on the agenda.
For too long, this has been any area of education and training that has been neglected, both in policy and in practice.
Unless we attend to sign language and deaf education, a significant portion of our people will remain excluded from meaningful economic participation by virtue of disability.
As we begin the last HRDC meeting of 2017, I wish to extend my thanks to all the members of the Council for your contribution over the year.
Although the task we have is immense, and the difficulties many, as members of the Council you have worked together to steadily and progressively improve our skills development capabilities.
For that we thank you and applaud you.
There is still much work that lies ahead.
But, as a Council, we are equal to that challenge.
I thank you.