Why oh why?
As a company you may have implemented an AET training project in the past, and the experience you have had was either really positive or rather poor.
The bottom line is that as far as training goes, AET is a fundamental and necessary step for those of your workers that are unskilled or semi-skilled and it has a huge impact on their lives and the lives of everyone around them. And in all honesty you may just have had the wrong provider or some of the elements that we are about to discuss were present in your project.
There are several challenges in South Africa when it comes to AET. Some of the challenges pertain to the attitudes of learners or their personal circumstances, while others may be due to structural or organisational challenges.
Dedicated learners may give up on their studies if one or more of these challenges exist. Likewise it is also possible that organisations or companies become resistant to training their employee because of past training failures.
The reasons AET programmes fail may include, but are not limited to, the following:
In most cases learners miss classes because of personal social challenges, that range from behavioural traits, such as alcohol or substance abuse to other personal matters such as health or marital issues.
Learners may become discouraged, by their personal circumstances, failing to cope with the workload or finding the material too difficult and drop-out of the programme.
It is also true that learners quit the programme if they find it too easy. This may happen if the learners were not assessed prior to training and placed at a level that is too low for their current skill level.
Facilitator Absenteeism and turnover
When a facilitator is absent from class it has a detrimental effect on classes and will result in absenteeism of the learners and eventual cancellation of the class.
In cases where the facilitator resigns and an immediate replacement cannot be found, it is prudent to postpone classes until a replacement is found.
Supervisors may be opposed to allowing employees the time and opportunity to join AET classes as it may get in the way of production targets or other operational needs. This can be avoided by making better scheduling decisions, for example having weekend classes or setting aside specific times within the company for training.
Some learners may be absent or drop out of class entirely if they experience difficulties with transport or if it is too expensive for them. This is generally not a challenge when training is conducted at work premises.
Lack of Incentives
Learners are far more likely to attend and stay committed to programmes that provide either stipends or food during classes.
Work vs Class
Workers who qualify for overtime allowances, would rather ensure that they are working overtime, even if this means that they will remain at the same level in their job, than go to AET classes.
Workers may skip see AET classes as an opportunity to get time off of work, using the AET class as an excuse to leave work early.
The gratification that the learner gets is delayed and often they prefer to be rewarded immediately.
Unemployed AET learners have to juggle between informal work and attending the programme.
SETA and Company Relationship
The timeframes that the SETAs provide are sometimes too short and this will affect both the companies and the training providers. It will be extremely difficult to complete the necessary documentation and logistics completed in time.
This results in companies sometimes forfeiting their grants for AET.
In some cases the grant funding may be inadequate for an AET programme and the company then have to provide additional funding so that training may complete.
The conditions in learning facilities may render the learning environment unbearable for the learners and thus attendance will suffer and drop-outs will happen. In the case where a venue change occurs and learners are not informed in time, they may not attend or assume the class has been discontinued and drop-out.
Classes Stopped or Postponed
In cases where classes are stopped, be it for any reason, or postponed due to operational or logistical challenges learners may become demotivated and drop out.
How it should be.
It is in the absolute best interest of companies, their employees and training providers to be as motivated and supportive of the AET programme as possible. Providers may go further by providing motivation sessions to workers and to do Quality Assurance visits to ensure every aspect of the AET Programme is running smoothly.
The commitment a company makes towards AET training, cannot only be a financial one. It is imperative that the company be supportive of the workers in training and to encourage them to learn. This will go a long way in ensuring a successful AET project and a brighter future for the company and it’s workers.