Apprentice to artisan trials and tribulations of apprentices in a dual system apprenticeship programme in South Africa

Von Maltitz, Darryn Lindsay
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Worldwide, various governments have taken significant measures to promote vocational education in an attempt to position it as an equal alternative to academic education. The problem, however, is that in many countries neither young people nor their parents perceive vocational education as having the same value as academic education (Allais, Marock, & Molebatsi, 2014). This is in contrast to Continental European countries, such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland where approximately two thirds of youth completing general schooling each year select vocational education over university education. South Africa a country in which vocational education is extremely stigmatized, is reforming its apprenticeship system and has set itself a target of qualifying 24 000 new artisans by 2020 (DHET 2015). Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges are viewed as key vehicles through which large numbers of artisans can be trained. However, employers do not have trust in the quality and capacity of public TVET colleges and have taken responsibility for training artisans through their own in-house training facilities and private training providers (National Treasury n.d.). The result is that TVET colleges have been side-lined in the supply chain for artisan development. It is against this background that the South African government is piloting a dual system apprenticeship project, which aims to: a) improve the quality of artisan training at public TVET colleges; b) build employer trust in the quality of the public artisan training system; and c) position TVET education as an attractive option for young people. This research is focused on apprentices training to become electricians through a dual apprenticeship model. The dual system integrates classroom theory with on-the-job instruction thus ensuring that learning is integrated and regularly reinforced. Through semi-structured interviews and a questionnaire, this study brings the voices of 95 electrical apprentices to bear in order to develop a much deeper, richer and nuanced understanding of how apprentices experience the artisan development system. It seeks to understand what motivates young people to enrol at a TVET college, and what apprentices’ experiences, perceptions and expectations are of dual system apprenticeships. The study provides insights into the merits and challenges of dual system apprenticeships within the South African context.
A research report submitted to the Wits School of Education, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education by combination of coursework and research Johannesburg, February 2018.
Von Maltitz, Darryn Lindsay (2018) Apprentice to artisan trials and tribulations of apprentices in a dual system apprenticeship programme in South Africa, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <>