Delays in issuing FET certificates putting 22 190 job seekers at risk of unemployment
Annelie Lotriet, Shadow Minister of Higher Education and Training
7 June 2012
The admission by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) that 22 190 Further Education and Training (FET) certificates have been outstanding for over 6 months is unacceptable and risks denying job opportunities to trainees.
The government has been punting the FET system as a key element in the National Infrastructure Plan. President Zuma has also trumpeted it as a hope-inspiring job opportunity mechanism, saying “we want school-leavers, including disheartened ones – some of whom stand on street corners daily with no hope for the future – to come back to the education and training system and benefit from vocational training.”
The reality is that for over 20 000 learners these statements are empty promises.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has received numerous complaints from learners who have completed their courses at different SETAs and FET colleges, but have not received their certificates. In some instances these certificates have been outstanding for more than two years. Learners have been sent from pillar to post by the SETAs, colleges and the DHET without getting any proper answers or action.
The result of the non-issuing of certificates is that, although these learners have completed their courses successfully, they cannot apply for jobs because employers want to see their certificates. This is understandable, as they are applying for jobs where technical skills are essential – for example as electricians and plumbers.
South Africa has a skills shortage and our economy cannot afford a situation where people are getting the necessary training, but the DHET is not delivering on its side of the bargain. In some instances employers have employed people without the required certificates, but after waiting for months and in some cases years for the certificates, they have no option now but to dismiss them.
Of great concern is the Minister’s contention that the DHET has been issuing confirmation letters to all candidates as evidence of performance, which could be used to access the job market or institutions of higher learning. The reality is that not one of the people who have submitted complaints to me has received such a letter. Clearly the Minister and his department do not have a handle on this issue.
While learners have to wait for the Minister and his department to get their act together and issue certificates within the required period of 30 days, people cannot find jobs or they risk losing out on job opportunities. The country cannot afford this.
The Minister has committed to fixing the problem by 31 July. I will be submitting further questions on outstanding certificates and confirmation letters today and will hold the Minister to account if the proposed deadline is not met.