Industry-education partnerships are collaborative efforts that bring higher education institutions, businesses and community together to address their mutual interest in higher education. While helping to advance the educational development in higher education institutions, the partnerships also address skills scarcity needs. They provide business people with an opportunity to contribute in educational programs and decision making.

The industry and education partnership initiative of the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) encourages partnerships between industry- education and other stakeholders, primarily, the private sector to enhance the performance of the education sector. The point of departure for the initiative is an acknowledgement that there are generally low levels of human resource development among the majority of the formerly disadvantaged population and high unemployment rates, especially among the youth. The Post School Education and Training (PSET) system holds a key to unlocking the human resource development challenges. This includes unemployment, and ultimately contributes to the broader objective of socio-economic transformation and a more equal society.

There is a good reason to believe that education institutions must work proactively with industry, to deliver appropriately skilled and capacitated graduates to meet the societal and economic needs. The industry and education partnership initiative of the HRDC seeks to support the White Paper recognition of the importance of partnerships between educational institutions and industry. One of the main objectives of the White Paper is a stronger and more cooperative relationship between education and training institutions and workplace.

Standard Bank South Africa has developed a partnership initiative called SBSA Value Add Offering. This initiative was endorsed by the HRDC on 13 September 2016. SBSA Value Add Offering provides TVET College with programmes aimed at management, lecturers, students and the entire institution. Standard Bank will contribute to the socioeconomic development of the country in a way that is consistent with the nature and size of their operations.

The HRDC also has a programme called adopt a TVET college where industry is encouraged to adopt a TVET college so that the industry is able to make contributions towards what learners are taught practically in order to make the transition from college to the work place a smooth one. “It is essential therefore that we work together- government, business and other stakeholders- to improve the scale, quality and relevance of our TVET college system” Said the Deputy President of South Africa during the launch of Adopt-A-TVET College.

The complex challenges of poverty, inequality, high levels of unemployment, illiteracy, crime and diseases requires collective efforts to respond appropriately and effectively. Neither government nor the market can develop the necessary capabilities required to address these challenges on their own. The collaboration between education institutions and industry will enhance capabilities to address South Africa’s complex challenges. The education and training system requires a close cooperation with industry, especially in the programmes providing vocational training. This will reduce mismatch of educational outcomes and workplace requirements.

There is an increasing need for universities to contribute towards the economic development of the country through the development of a knowledge economy that is competitive and open to innovation, adding value to the technological capabilities in industry. At the same time, higher education institutions can also benefit from collaboration and partnership agreements with industry.

When industry and higher education institutions work hand in hand to reach new heights of knowledge, they become a powerful engine for innovation and economic growth.

The perceived disconnect between Higher Education and Industry is partly due to the lack of adequately trained graduates for industry, mainly those with measurable skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. This remains a key concern for business.

Business and post school education have found common cause in recent decades in preparation of an extremely skilled workforce to reserve the nation’s competitiveness and economic opportunity in response to rapid technological change and increasing global competition. Business and Industry are experiencing rapid transformation in many forms, driven by increasing doubt in new global markets; more difficulty in business processes; and the need for rapid change and the mobilisation of people to attain key objectives in a globally competitive marketplace.

Where meaningful partnerships exist between business and Higher Education, the gaps between the supply of graduates and the demand for skills are significantly reduced, and the needs of businesses are more closely associated to the academic curricula.

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