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GETC: AET inspires education model

The resounding success of the GETC: AET NQF 1 inspires a new education model in South Africa. This proposed new system recognises the importance of a National Qualifications Framework level 1 education. Therefore, if all goes as planned, learners who pass grade nine will attain a General Education and Training Certificate. This will provide the many young citizens who leave school at this level with some currency when applying for employment. Currently, about 40% of learners leave school without any qualification to join the workforce. This makes it more difficult for them to participate in the world of work. Those who have the opportunity to do so stagnate in insecure and low-paying positions. A large proportion of the many unemployed youth have never had the chance to work. 

In the first quarter of 2024, the unemployment rate among citizens aged between 15 and 34 years was 45,5%. This is compared to the national average of 32,9% over the same period. Refer to Unemployment in South Africa: A Youth Perspective | Statistics South Africa (

However, youth with some form of experience far surpass adults in transitioning from unemployment into employment. This is according to the Labour Market Dynamics in South Africa report for 2022. Report-02-11-022022.pdf ( tracks individuals over multiple quarters using annual data released by Statistics South Africa. 

Chances of securing and retaining employment are significantly influenced by education level. Citizens who hold a tertiary education have better opportunities to find work. Yet, according to Labour Market Dynamics in South Africa report for 2022, only 9,8% of employed South Africans were graduates. 

It is clear that limited educational attainment and social and economic disadvantages are behind high youth unemployment. In future, learners who have passed grade 9 and want to exit school to work will receive a national certificate.

GETC: AET inspires education model NQF 1 learnerships

The GETC: AET NQF 1 is a popular learnership among companies. This is considering its focus on equipping general workers and new recruits with basic education skills. These can also simply be referred to as workplace literacy skills. They are the absolute basic proficiencies that employees need to function effectively in modern workplaces.

Equipped with these skills, employees can also pursue various learning paths to enhance their proficiencies. 

Employees or unemployed individuals who have not completed their education are offered the learnership by companies. There are currently about 4-million South African adults who are functionally illiterate. Many of them are of working age. Some are employed as low-skilled workers and many more are inactive. These are prime candidates for the GETC: AET NQF 1 learnership.

According to the General Household Survey 2022 [], more than 40% of South African students do not matriculate. It estimates that the average dropout rate across the board is 4,5%. Most of these learners leave school between grades 9 and 11. Between 2019 and 2021, about 30% of learners left school in grades 9 through to 11. Only 57,9% of learners attained a National Senior Certificate [].

The Department of Basic Education [] duplicates the GETC: AET NQF 1’s focus on placing individuals on different learning paths. This is known as the “Three Stream Model” [Three Stream Model (]. It provides multiple learning pathways, namely academic, vocational and occupational. This aligns the basic education system to the National Development Plan [National Development Plan (]. It is also associated with the White Paper on Post-School Education and Training [White Paper.indd (].

GETC: AET NQF 1 holders

Like GETC: AET NQF 1 holders pursue vocational learning, so too can individuals who pass grade 9 under this system.

Vocational training is specific to a career or trade by teaching practical application skills in the workplace. This is opposed to just imparting theoretical knowledge about a certain field as is the case with many university courses. Therefore, individuals who have completed vocational training can perform specific roles. They are productive from the first day that they start working. This is exactly what many employers are looking for. 

All too often young adults pursue generic qualifications. They are let down when they cannot secure employment with their degree or diploma. This is because they are not adequately prepared for the workplace. Most employers recruit people who can perform specific jobs in particular industries. They are also looking for work experience.

Holders of some qualifications have the theoretical knowledge in their chosen field of study. However, they lack the practical skills that are needed to perform specific jobs. 

Vocational training develops practical, immediately relevant skills. 

Moreover, it is designed to prepare individuals for entry-level employment in the career of their choice quickly.

Vocational courses are offered at Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges [].

There are two main types of TVET college qualifications. They include the National Certificate Vocational [] and Report 191 [].

These qualifications are offered in the following fields:

  • Primary Agriculture
  • Primary Health
  • Civil Engineering and Building Construction
  • Drawing Office Practice
  • Electrical Infrastructure Construction
  • Engineering and Related Design
  • Finance, Economics and Accounting
  • Hospitality
  • Education and Development
  • Information Technology and Computer Science
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Mechatronics
  • Office Administration
  • Process Instrumentation
  • Process Plant Operations
  • Safety in Society
  • Tourism

GETC: AET NQF 1 qualification

A GETC: AET NQF 1 qualification also provides access to occupational training. This is one of the DBE’s three learning streams for future grade 9 certificate holders.

Many employers favour occupational training because it develops a skilled, competent and legally compliant workforce. This, in turn, yields many advantages for companies. These include productivity increases and training cost reductions, ultimately contributing to business success and growth.

Occupational training programmes have been designed for the workplace and form the Workplace Skills Plan [] core. Therefore, they contribute to the achievement of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment []. They also add to development targets in Employment Equity Plans []. Occupational training is offered as learnerships, apprenticeships and internships.

The Occupational Qualification Sub-framework is the repository for all occupational, professional and trade qualifications []. These have been designed in and for the workplace. Qualifications are developed by subject matter experts and are quality assured by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations []. The framework provides for occupational certificates and diplomas at varying NQF levels. It also recognises QCTO-accredited skills programmes, short courses or forms of “micro-credentialling”. 

Central to the design of occupational qualifications are the inclusion of knowledge, practical and work experience modules. 

Knowledge modules encompass the academic and theoretical aspects of a particular occupation. They ensure that learners have a solid understanding of the underlying concepts, theories and best practices of their chosen occupation. 

Practical modules focus on teaching hands-on skills and real-world application of knowledge. This bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge and job performance. Graduates are, thus, ready to “hit the ground running”.

Work experience modules entail involving learners in real job environments that are related to their field of study. This practical exposure allows learners to apply their theoretical knowledge and practical skills in a real work setting.

GETC: AET inspires education model paves the way forward

GETC AET inspires education model graduate celebrating

GETC: AET NQF 1 paves the way forward for adults who previously had very little in way of an education. The proposed grade 9 certificate can also achieve this – if undertaken correctly.

Currently, the TVET college system provides two entry points for learners who leave school after passing grade 9. These levels are each equivalent to a grade 10 on the NQF. However, very few young people without a NSC can access this education. In 2014, only 5% of 15- to 24-year-olds with a grade 9 enrolled in a public TVET college. This is according to the 2014 General Household Survey [Microsoft Word – P0318 – GHS 2014 (Revised 5-Nov-2015).docx (]. TVET colleges prefer admitting students with a NSC to ensure a standard level of literacy and numeracy among successful candidates. Therefore, quality standardised grade 9 exams could make it easier for colleges to open to GETC holders. 

GETC: AET NQF 1 training

GETC AET inspires education model mother and daughter celebrate graduation

Many individuals who have undergone GETC: AET NQF 1 training have also passed adult matric. They, therefore, hold a Senior Certificate []. The most industrious have then gone on to enrol at a university to learn for a degree or diploma. Many school learners will also want to pursue an academic path to attain a National Senior Certificate []. 

The DBE has clarified that the GETC is not to be viewed as an “exit qualification”. Rather it should be seen as one of two exit points from the schooling system. One of these includes pursuing a conventional NSC to obtain a NQF 4 qualification. 

Individuals who have matriculated can try to join the workforce. Alternatively, if they have met the required criteria, they can choose to study further. 

However, holding a NQ4 qualification does not necessarily provide these individuals with a competitive edge in the labour market.

Matriculants are finding it increasingly more difficult to secure employment. In the first quarter of 2001, 37,7% of unemployed citizens were matriculants. This increased to 40% in the first quarter of 2022. In the first quarter of 2023, 40,7% of unemployed South Africans had completed basic education. This means that a NSC only granted matriculants a 7,6% increase in the chance of securing employment. 

The class of 2023 achieved an 82,9% pass rate. This surpasses the 80,1% recorded in 2022 and is the highest since democracy [,since%20the%20dawn%20of%20democracy]. However, the concern remains the low number of learners who achieved “Bachelor passes”.

In 2021, only 6% of the local population held a university degree. This is according to a Department of Higher Education and Training report [DHET-PSET2021-WEB.pdf]. A further 6% held diplomas and 3,4% TVET certificates. 

Yet, according to Statistics South Africa, only 2,7% of unemployed citizens held degrees. 7,5% had some tertiary education.

GETC: AET better prepares learners

The GETC: AET inspires education model NQF 1 better prepares learners for the real world. This is exactly what the proposed DBE qualification also sets out to do. 

The department has been preparing students who opt for the certificate for the “real world” via its new curriculum. It has introduced more than 35 new subjects in the Further Education and Training phase over the past seven years. Refer to Education and Training A guide to opportunities for further learning.pdf. This was done to expand the curriculum so that learners have more chances of learning success.

Trials were undertaken in a few schools in 2022 and formally launched in 2023. 

At present, young people are given very little navigational career guidance. Worryingly, many families and communities only place value on a university education. Yet, our youth have a diverse set of skills and talents that could be better harnessed in other fields. This while providing them with better opportunities to grow and excel in their careers. 

At the same time, there is a dire shortage of artisans. The proposed GETC could address this by directing youth into these fields. This is opposed to them struggling with academic pursuits for which they are not equipped.

South Africa needs to produce 30 000 qualified artisans by 2030 to grow the economy. This is according to the NDP and White Paper for Post-School Education and Training. At present, we only produce 20 000 tradespeople every year. There has been a decline in the number of learners entering the artisanal learning programme. In 2021/2022, only 10 302 learners enrolled. This reflected a 36,5% decline in intakes compared with the 2019/2020 financial year.

GETC: AET inspires education model NQF 1 training

Private GETC: AET inspires education model NQF 1 training has been of an exceptionally high quality. It has transformed many high school “dropouts” into achievers. So too can the proposed GETC raise the quality of the basic education system. Again, this can only happen if it is implemented correctly.

Importantly, it represents an opportunity to introduce a second, earlier metric by which to examine the quality of our education system. At present, the only standardised assessment of quality across all schools in the country is the NSC. The GETC is the first step towards a systematic quality assessment of grades 3, 6 and 9. This will identify failing schools and learners early so that action can be taken timeously. 

Certainly, we have a robust private AET system. However, it is also important to address the root cause of the skills problem. This is basic education quality.

Assessments undertaken of our schooling system in the mid-2010s revealed a dire situation. Not a single learner could read or make simple inferences in 45% of primary schools. Learners who struggle to read in lower grades will find it extraordinarily difficult to learn other subjects. They will also struggle to catch up in later years. It is no wonder that so few learners pass school leaving exams!

In 2015, a further study brought the poor state of maths education to the fore. Not a single learner from 47% of secondary schools reached the intermediate benchmark in an international mathematics assessment.

A South African learner can expect 9,3 years of basic education by the age of 18. However, this is only equivalent to 5,1 years of learning. This is according to the International Monetary Fund [International Monetary Fund (IMF)] in 2019. Refer to The-Silent-Crisis-South-Africas-failing-education-system.pdf ( for more reading on this topic.

GETC: AET inspires education model NQF 1 skills

GETC AET inspires education model hand_on keyboard

GETC: AET inspires education model NQF 1 skills are essential to function effectively in the workplace, communities and society at large. Holders of a GETC: AET NQF 1 have basic education skills equivalent to someone who has completed grade 9. As from next year, learners who leave school after passing this grade will also possess a national qualification.

Grade 9 is considered an important grade for many reasons. 

Firstly, it builds a robust foundation for further learning. Learners are introduced to more complex concepts in core subjects, such as maths, science and literature. Moreover, challenging coursework develops critical thinking and problem-solving skills. A case in point is the study of algebraic equations during this grade. This lays the basis upon which knowledge of advanced mathematical concepts like calculus are developed in later grades.

It also prepares students for the future. They explore career interests via elective courses and establish goals that are aligned with future aspirations. This is irrespective of whether students intend entering the workforce or studying further. For example, students who study science, engineering, technology and mathematics are exposed to various technical fields. This helps them to make informed decisions about the academic and career paths that are available to them.

Grade 9 also further develops students’ interpersonal skills, such as communication, empathy and conflict resolution.

There is also a strong correlation between Grade 9 performance and future academic achievement. This includes graduation rates and tertiary education acceptance. During this grade, students learn the importance of developing good study habits and time management skills. This is so that they can succeed in school and beyond. 

GETC: AET NQF 1 outcomes

GETC: AET NQF 1 exit level outcomes are very similar to the proposed grade 9 qualification.

Holders of these certificates can identify and solve problems and make decisions. This is because they have developed logical, critical and creative thinking skills. These individuals can also work effectively with others. They can do so as members of teams, groups, organisations and communities. Furthermore, these individuals know how to organise and manage themselves and their activities responsibly and effectively. They also demonstrate entrepreneurial capabilities. In addition, they are effective communicators. They know how to use visual, symbolic and/or language skills in various modes to convey clear messages. Furthermore, they can deploy science and technology knowledge effectively and critically. This while demonstrating responsibility to the environment and the health of others. They can also collect, analyse, organise and critically-evaluate information. 

GETC: AET NQF 1 examination

A GETC: AET NQF 1 examination assesses whether learners are competent. They have to demonstrate an ability to identify and solve problems and make decisions. Doing so by using the critical, logical and creative thinking skills that they developed during their studies. Expected to answer relevant questions about problems that relate to natural phenomena. In addition, they are asked to solve problems by undertaking scientific investigations of geographical and environmental concepts. When solving problems, they must also demonstrate conceptual understanding via the correct application of mathematical procedures and rules.

Learners’ ability to work as members of a team, group and community is assessed in many ways. For example, they are asked to implement strategies to enhance their own and others’ self-image through positive actions. In addition, they must demonstrate evidence of respect for others and an ability to agree in constructive ways. 

Learners also have to demonstrate that they can organise and manage themselves responsibly and effectively. This is by displaying improved self-esteem and confidence in executing activities. Moreover, they must know how to make responsible decisions. These need to be executed within a specified timeframe and with accountability. 

Entrepreneurial capabilities also need to be demonstrated by learners. This is by describing the skills sets and abilities of a successful entrepreneur. Learners must also articulate the connections between needs and wants and how they influence selling and buying behaviour. Moreover, their business communication skills are tested. They do so by demonstrating knowledge of internal and external verbal and non-verbal interactions in various contexts and situations.

GETC: AET NQF 1 exams 

GETC: AET NQF 1 exams also test learners’ communication skills in different ways. They need to show that they can communicate effectively using visual, symbolic and/or language skills in various modes. Moreover, their use of verbal, visual, graphic and other communication skills to understand and convey information are put to the test. Learners are also expected to demonstrate their skills in presenting scientific investigation results. In doing so, they will be expected to use various suitable formats, such as maps, tables, graphs and drawings.

Moreover, learners must show that they know how to use science and technology effectively and critically. This while demonstrating responsibility towards the environment, as well as the health and safety of others. They also need to explain how scientific and technological knowledge improves society and the environment. This is in addition to being proficient in blended learning areas, including a combination of online and offline activities.

Learners’ ability to collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information is also tested. They will be expected to show connections between scientific ideas and concepts as part of their examination. Moreover, they need to be able to access, recall, observe, record, sort and classify information. This must be done in a way that shows a sound understanding of the natural world. Learners will also be asked to investigate the past and present using enquiry skills and instruments. Their understanding, interpretation and demonstration of historical knowledge will also be tested.

GETC: AET inspires education model unit standards

The GETC: AET NQF 1 unit standards include fundamental, core and elective subjects. A minimum of 120 credits must be achieved to be awarded the qualification. 

The fundamental unit standards include language, literacy and communication. LLC counts 23 credits towards the final pass mark. The ability to engage in a range of speaking and listening interactions for a variety of purposes counts six credits. Making up five credits is the ability to explore and use a variety of strategies to learn. The ability to read and respond to a range of text types contributes six credits towards the final pass mark. Reading and writing for a variety of purposes counts the same number of credits towards this unit standard.

GETC: AET LLC classes

Attending GETC: AET NQF 1 LLC classes, individuals learn speaking and active listening strategies. This is so that they can communicate confidently for a variety of purposes and contexts. They also learn how to use different language conventions and structures to convey meaning and understanding in many contexts. Learners are also taught how to identify and use a variety of learning strategies to access and covey information. Studying this subject, they also read a variety of texts for meaning. Independent reading both aloud and silent are also engaged in for a variety of purposes. Furthermore, a range of texts are explored, planned and drafted to reflect ideas, facts, opinions, different purposes, audiences and contexts. This is done in a creative, expressive or imaginative way. Grammar and language conventions are also studied. This includes their role in organising texts in a logical and coherent manner.

They are also explained and analysed in terms of form and function. Learners also exercise their verbal language skills. They do so by explaining ideas in a sequenced manner across a range of transactional situations. These include requests, apologies, role-players and stating a point of view. The influence of non-verbal strategies on listeners is also studied. Learners additionally exercise their interaction skills during LLC classes. They do so by participating in group discussions, debates, conversations, group interviews and surveys. Throughout the programme, a critical awareness of the use of language for various applications is developed.

GETC: AET mathematical literacy

GETC AET inspires education model math text paper

The other GETC: AET NQF 1 fundamental is mathematical literacy, which counts 16 credits towards the qualification. Describing and representing objects in terms of shape, space and measurement contribute five credits. Evaluating and solving data handling and probability problems within given contexts also contributes five credits. Making up four credits is the ability to work with numbers; operations with numbers; and relationships between numbers. Proficiencies required to work with measurement in a variety of contexts count two credits.

GETC: AET basic numbers skills

GETC: AET NQF 1 teaches essential basic numbers skills. Individuals who pass this subject will be able to identify geometrical shapes. They have also learnt how to describe them in terms of their uses and measurements in different contexts. In addition, they have been taught how to use mathematical scales to interpret and draw maps for specific purposes and given equations. They also learn how to solve measurement problems using a variety of strategies. In addition, individuals who have passed this subject will be able to measure everyday objects using the correct tools and units.

They can collect, analyse and interpret data to show relationships and variations. In addition, they can perform calculations to solve realistic and abstract problems. Add to this an ability to use a variety of mathematical techniques and strategies to find solutions. They can do so across a range of contexts to develop awareness of life issues.

These include economic and management science; natural sciences and technology; social sciences; and arts and culture. Moreover, they know how to select appropriate methods to investigate a question on an issue. Diligently attending mathematical literacy classes, individuals learn to do so by using all relevant methods. They do so by asking questions, interviewing, experimenting and/or referencing textbooks, libraries, the internet, media articles and documentaries. The subject also teaches how to organise data. This is by using a variety of techniques appropriate to the purpose of the investigation. They include summarising, sorting, sequencing and classifying.

Core of GETC: AET

The core unit standard of GETC: AET NQF 1 is life orientation, totalling 32 credits towards the qualification. Demonstrating an understanding of sexuality and sexually transmitted infections contributes five credits. Counting four credits towards the qualification is an understanding of factors that contribute towards a healthy lifestyle. Knowledge of diversity within different South African relationships and society constitutes three credits. An understanding of how to participate effectively in the workplace also contributes three credits towards the qualification. Understanding one’s own identity and role within the immediate community contributes the same number of credits. Planning and managing personal finances count five credits and identifying security, safety and environmental risks contributes six.

GETC: AET life orientation classes

Attending GETC: AET inspires education model NQF 1 life orientation classes, individuals learn about the nature, transmission and prevention of sexually transmitted infections. The topic is explained in terms of outlining coping mechanisms for infected and affected individuals. Moreover, they learn about the factors influencing a healthy lifestyle to make informed personal choices. These are social, ecological, political, economic and cultural in nature. Life orientation also teaches the importance of personal hygiene. Specific focus is on the consequences of poor nutrition, as well as the abuse of substances. Learners also study the role of sports and recreation in promoting a healthy lifestyle. In addition, ways of encouraging positive relationships are explored. This is to develop the skills needed to deal with personal and emotional challenges. The rights and responsibilities of citizens are also explained.

This is in terms of ethical behaviour in the workplace and how they help to build a nation. Life orientation also explores ways to engage in communities to promote self-esteem and concept. In doing so, learners will also assess and define their roles and responsibilities as South African citizens. Moreover, they will learn how to draw up a budget with clear goals and priorities. Learners will also be shown how to schedule or action a plan to achieve personal goals. It will include realistic tasks and responsibilities. In addition, potential safety, security and environmental risks are identified and explained during life orientation classes.

GETC: AET NQF 1 elective

The GETC: AET NQF 1 elective unit standards include human and social; natural; and economic management sciences. They contribute 49 credits towards the qualification. 

Studying human and social sciences, individuals acquire an understanding of the relationship between social justice; human rights; and democracy. This contributes five credits towards the qualification. They also learn about diversity and change in a dynamic society, making up six credits. Moreover, individuals are taught the relationship between society, environment and development. This also constitutes six credits as does knowledge of relationships between events, time and space and their influence on society.

Attending natural sciences classes, individuals learn how to apply basic natural sciences concepts and principles, contributing five credits. They also learn how scientific innovation impacts quality of life. This knowledge is equivalent to two credits. Counting four credits is the ability to conduct natural science investigations. Individuals also learn how scientific skills and knowledge contribute to sustainable use of resources. Learners also gain an understanding of the concept of science. Each area of study contributes two credits towards the qualification. 

Studying GETC: AET NQF 1

Studying GETC: AET NQF 1 economic management sciences, individuals gain an understanding of basic accounting practice. This counts four credits towards the qualification. Moreover, they improve their knowledge of contracts and their sources, which contributes five credits. In addition, individuals learn the principles of supply and demand and production concept. This counts two credits towards the qualification. The subject also teaches the different types of businesses and their legal implications, which contributes four credits. Attending these classes, individuals learn how to identify, discuss and compare major economic systems. Particular focus of this aspect of the study is on the South African economy and counts two credits. Learners also gain an understanding of management expertise and administrative systems. This learning area counts two credits towards the qualification.

Assessing GETC: AET skills competency

When assessing GETC: AET NQF 1 elective unit standard skills competency, generic associated assessment criteria are applied.

The underlying knowledge and concepts need to be understood and communicated in various ways. They include in writing; basic community research assignments; and oral presentations. Arguments also need to be constructed using learning area knowledge. These are presented orally or in writing and substantiated using appropriate evidence. Media and primary and secondary sources are used to gather learning area knowledge.

Moreover, learners need to explore and explain ideas/topics for a basic community or work context. They do so by using skills associated with a relevant learning area. Models are also produced to depict concepts using related skills where applicable. Learners will be expected to draw deductions and conclusions; deduce cause and effect; and form opinions about probable future outcomes. Again, they do so by using learning area skills and knowledge. Products will also be made using relevant knowledge and skills.

Moreover, an understanding of the learning areas values must also be understood and explained in various modes of delivery. To demonstrate their competency, learners must also analyse principles of behaviour pertaining to learning areas.

GETC: AET NQF 1 curriculum

The GETC: AET NQF 1 curriculum has informed that of the proposed grade 9 qualification. 

Grade 9 learners registered for the GETC must complete nine subjects. They include two official languages for communication and language studies. One of the two subjects must be a home language. The other needs to be a home or at least a first additional language. Furthermore, one of the two must be a language of learning and teaching. Each language contributes 20 credits towards the qualification. 

Mathematics must also be selected for the study of physical, mathematical, computer and life sciences. It contributes 20 credits towards the qualification. 

The grade 9 course also offers natural sciences for the study of physical, mathematical, computer and life sciences. It contributes 10 credits towards the qualification. this is part of the GETC: AET inspires education model.

Constituting 10 credits, life orientation is the study of human and social sciences.

Technology, which is the study of engineering and technology, counts 10 credits. 

Learners can also select creative arts for the study of culture and arts. It contributes 10 credits towards the qualification.

Economic and management sciences make up 10 credits. The subject falls under the study of business, commerce and management studies.

One official or approved non-official language may be selected as an optional subject. However, it has to be at least a second additional language. 

Are GETC: AET skills sufficient?

Are GETC: AET inspires education model NQF 1 skills sufficient for modern workplaces? The answer to this question is no. Therefore, it would be incorrect to assume that the proposed grade 9 qualification, alone, will enhance employment prospects. It is inevitable that individuals who exit the schooling system with this qualification need to study vocational or occupational courses.

Among the critics of the proposed grade 9 qualification is Jonathan Jansen. He is a professor in the Department of Education at Stellenbosch University [Education (]. Jansen does not believe that learners who exist school at grade 9 with a GETC will be ready for the workplace. “This argument can only be made by those who have not spent time in the majority of our schools.”

The fact is that proficiencies required to perform blue collar work are becoming increasingly more sophisticated. This is especially so in the manufacturing industry. 

Many entry level and general blue-collar jobs in factories now require basic education skills at least at NQF 4. Over-and-above, individuals who work as artisans need to hold a National Technical Certificate (NTC) [].

This is as local manufacturers continue to mechanise and automate repetitive and mundane work. In some instances, these functions are being performed by workers with the bare minimum in terms of basic education skills. It is estimated that just under 50% of all artisans working the manufacturing industry are unqualified. Only about 32% hold a NSC and just 6,4% a tertiary qualification.

Performing similar jobs as technicians but with a more practical focus, artisans constitute the backbone of the manufacturing industry. Therefore, they consist of more than 70% of the total workforce. 

GETC: AET inspires education model develops lifelong learners

GETC AET inspires education model class of students

Importantly, the GETC: AET NQF 1 develops lifelong learners. The next step in the learning journey is to pursue alternative paths to a NQF 4.

Employees, thus, already possess the basis upon which both “hard” or technical skills can be developed. These are the proficiencies that they need to do the job of artisans.

Certainly, basic numeracy skills are also the basis of “soft” skills, which are becoming increasingly important in this digital era. New technologies can perform many traditional factory jobs that require “hard” or technical skills. However, machines do not possess “soft” skills. These include collaboration and teamwork; creativity; interpersonal communication; adaptability and flexibility; and cultural intelligence and diversity. This is in addition to important critical and logical thinking abilities, which are also firmly grounded in numeracy and literacy. 

A dearth of these skills in the manufacturing industry has hindered its ability to efficiently transition into a new industrial era. 

It has also been argued that the adoption of 4IR in developing countries may not bring the expected gains. This is if viable resources required for its success are not present. They include adequate digital technologies; IT infrastructure; and digital literacy. If countries lacking these resources implement 4IR, these technologies will only widen inequality. Only those who possess the resources will benefit from the technology. Refer to Bear in mind the many citizens who do not have basic education skills, the foundation of digital literacy. There are also many areas of the country that are not connected or simply cannot afford the service. 

Use GETC: AET inspires education model to upskill

Thus, enterprising manufacturers use the GETC: AET NQF 1 to upskill their artisans. These employees first attain a GETC by completing an adult education and training learnership. Thereafter, they enrol for foundational learning competence (FLC) training []. This is compulsory for all new Quality Council for Trades & Occupations [] QCTO courses at NQF Level 2 to 4. There is a difference between AET and FLC, although not immediately apparent. AET teaches employees how to read, write and do basic mathematics. FLC provides instruction in the use of literacy and numeracy skills to continue learning. 

Previously, poor English literacy and numeracy skills were a hurdle in the way of artisans working in the industry to obtain a recognised qualification. Therefore, despite being very proficient workers, career and individual growth were stifled. 

Employees who have completed the training are fluent in the language of learning and instruction. They also possess the basic numeracy skills to understand technical concepts that are presented in occupational and vocational training. Thus, they have been primed to succeed in further learning. This is to formalise the “hard” skills that they have acquired through work experience. These are complemented by essential workplace literacy skills, which enable modern factory workers to communicate efficiently; present; and negotiate. These proficiencies are among the other “soft” skills that are highly sought after by employers in most industries.

GETC: AET a stepping stone

The GETC: AET NQF 1 is merely a stepping stone for many individuals. Most people who have completed the course have gained a new-found passion and respect for learning. Enterprising employers encourage this because they know that it will add further value to business and industry.

For example, enterprising artisans can be developed further to bolster a decline in the number of technicians in the industry. This is especially in ages below 55 to 64. Although qualified, many technicians working in the industry do not hold a National Diploma from a University of Technology []. This is a baseline qualification to work as a technician in the industry. Therefore, just more than 30% of technicians who work in the industry are adequately qualified to do so.

During the training of artisans, future professionals are also identified. These include industrial engineers, manufacturing managers, plant engineers and production supervisors. This is in addition to the other knowledge workers who ensure seamless operations. These industrious learners are encouraged to complete adult matric instead of pursuing vocational and occupations training streams. In this way, they can work towards obtaining exemption to study relevant engineering disciplines at a university.

GETC: AET NQF 1 structure

Notably, the GETC: AET NQF 1 structure facilitates recognition of prior learning via the assessment of individual unit standards. The learner and assessor jointly decide on methods to determine prior learning competence. This is based on the knowledge, skills and values implicit in the qualification and the associated unit standards. The RPL is undertaken via an assessment of formal, informal and non-formal learning and work experience.

The RPL allows for accelerated access to further learning at this or higher NQF levels. Credits are obtained for unit standards in the qualification which can be obtained in whole or in part.

All RPL is subject to quality assurance by the Education and Training Quality Assurance body [].

Many older artisans working in the industry have gained immense experience over the years. Therefore, more effort needs to be made by industry to certify these employees via RPL. 

This will also provide scope for career and individual growth and development, which is a way of retaining these skills. Retention of these skills is of utmost importance to the sustainability of the industry. This is considering the dire shortage of these professionals in the country. At present, 29% of all artisans employed in the industry are nearing retirement age. This will aggravate the skills crisis and intensify competition for talent. 

GETC: AET inspires education model NQF 1 approach

The GETC: AET NQF 1 approach of placing individuals on a suitable skills development path is to be duplicated by the grade 9 qualification.

However, if poorly implemented, it could have adverse effects. This is by legitimising the commonplace phenomena of leaving school without a matric or basic education skills. The true intention of the GETC will, thus, be undermined. This is to unlock work or study opportunities of citizens who have left school after passing grade 9.

Therefore, the GETC must be designed to specifically fill the gaps in the education system. These lead to dropouts and low certification levels.

This will entail designing tracking and prevention into the system. Collecting the correct type of data about individual learners early is critical. This will enable interventions to be implemented timeously before they dropout. The tracking needs to very accurate using a novel identifier for each learner.

Learners also need to receive better career guidance. They must be furnished with accurate and practical information about the different pathways and nearest places of study. Bear in mind that there are only 190 public technical high schools in the country. However, government does intend increasing the number of these places of learning [].

It must also be determined how learners from under-resourced households with be supported financially to pursue occupational and vocational streams. Bear in mind that no-fee schools account for 80% of schools in the country [].

GETC: AET NQF 1’s success

The GETC: AET NQF 1’s success is that it was developed in industry for companies. For the grade 9 qualification to be successful, it must be valued by the labour market.

Employers must understand the rationale for the qualification and believe that it will add value. In fact, the private sector has a large role to play in drafting a policy for the proposed GETC. If this is done in isolation without industry input, it will fail.

Importantly, the qualification also needs buy-in from young people and post-school institutions. These are important stakeholders who must also be widely consulted prior to the launch of the GETC.
Triple E Training is a leading provider of adult literacy and numeracy training to industry. Learn more about our GETC: AET NQF 1 learnership programmes, widely acknowledged as being the best in the industry.

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Note: Please be assured that all personal data submitted is handled with the utmost confidentiality & will only be used for the purpose of addressing your inquiries.