Vocational training to increase employment levels

Programme description

Title: Basic entrepreneurial skills development programme (BESD)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: South Africa
Lead executing agency: Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET); Department of Small Business Development (DSBD)
Partner: Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda)
Overall term: 2012 to 2016

South Africa. A young food seller Photo: GIZ (Ralf Baecker)


The South African labour market is characterised by a very high level of unemployment, especially among the black population. One of the reasons for this is the inadequate vocational training. Many people looking for work resort to jobs in the informal sector. Here too, however, it is not possible to satisfy the full potential for employment, since the vocational education available generally fails to address the actual conditions and needs.


The livelihoods of small and micro-entrepreneurs and their employees in the informal sector have improved as a result of vocational training.

South Africa. A welder at work (Photo: ©  GIZ/Ralf Baecker)


The Basic Entrepreneurial Skills Development Programme (BESD) supports the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Small Enterprise Development Agency in improving the vocational training available to the informal sector. In doing so, it builds on the experience acquired with the Department of Labour (formerly responsible for vocational education) while developing a model for needs-oriented training in the informal sector, and while piloting this at six locations prior to the end of 2011.

A key element in this model is the imparting of basic business and commercial knowledge and skills. These are taught with a practical focus, in weekly, two-hour individual training sessions, organised by educational institutions, but held in the enterprises themselves.

The programme is advising its partners on the consolidation and further development of this model, and assisted with its introduction and application in 19 locations countrywide during 2014. Support for the development of resources and expertise for quality assurance is deemed particularly important, as is the provision of advice to the training institutions. The latter ensures that the courses for BESD trainers and for small businesses and micro-entrepreneurs are conducted efficiently and effectively. By providing good quality training, the institutions can contribute to the sustainable improvement of the participants’ incomes and lives.


Approximately 100 BESD trainers have undergone training, and by the end of 2011 nearly 800 entrepreneurs had completed courses at six locations in five of South Africa’s nine provinces. Some 54 per cent of the businesses were owned by women, which means that one of the South African Government’s equal opportunities targets had been met.

According to random surveys of course participants, between 60 and 80 per cent of the entrepreneurs interviewed had managed to increase their turnover, between 50 and 60 per cent had broadened the range of their products or services, and between 40 and 75 per cent had undertaken new investments. On average, one new job was created per business.

The costs of the training are now being met in full from the DHET’s National Skills Fund.

Further Information