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The Corporation

Posted: 01/06/12

South African visitors in fact-finding mission

West Nottinghamshire College has welcomed delegates from South Africa on a fact-finding educational mission to the UK.

Representatives from East Cape Midlands College in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape, and the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education Training Authority (merSETA) spent two days learning about its approach to vocational training and its links to industry.

They discovered how the college develops students’ employability skills, prepares them for work and matches them to relevant job roles.  The visitors also learnt about the success of the college’s recruitment service Vision Apprentices with the aim of repeating its best practice in order to set up a similar apprenticeship training agency in South Africa, which was one of the main aims of the visit.

The visit included meeting with staff from Vision Apprentices and touring its Construction and Logistics Skills Academy and The Engine – its engineering and motor vehicle campus – where they spoke to tutors and students.

Students at The Engine heard about the differences between studying engineering in South Africa and the UK while tutors explained how they stay up-to-date with current teaching practice.

Delegates also spoke to staff from college company BKSB, a leading developer of assessment software for maths, English and ICT skills.

The visit on Tuesday and Wednesday (29 and 30 May) was part of a study tour of UK colleges.  It was organised by UK Trade and Investment in a drive to strengthen South Africa’s further education sector by building greater links with the UK.  The Eastern Cape is one of the most deprived areas in South Africa and faces many challenges with students’ basic literacy and numeracy levels.

Sandra Cowley, head of employer engagement at the college and director of Vision Apprentices, said: “It was a privilege to host our South African visitors and inform them about our approach to vocational education, in particular our technical and engineering programmes, and the way we deliver apprenticeships.

“They were particularly interested in how we ensure the qualifications we offer meet the needs of industry and get students ready for employment by the end of their studies.

“The South African government has made strengthening the country’s further education system a priority and it’s an honour to help them towards that goal.”