Skills development for a green economy

Project description

Title: Skills development for a green economy (SD4GE)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: South Africa
Lead executing agency: Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)
Overall term: 2015 to 2018

South Africa (SD4GE). Instructor (electrical) who provides theory and practical training at one of the pilot TVET colleges.© GIZ


South Africa’s emerging economy status does not sufficiently reflect the structural, economic and social challenges faced by the nation, which recorded economic growth of just 1.4 per cent in 2014. High wage costs, inflexible employment legislation, increasingly arbitrary state interference, a failed education policy and a resulting shortage of skilled workers are stopping enterprises from investing in the country.

Official statistics put structural unemployment at 25 per cent, while unofficial figures are closer to 40 per cent. More than half of the people under 25 are unemployed, with young black people, women and those with little education or no technical or vocational training particularly hard hit.

This high level of youth unemployment is caused by poor economic growth and a school education system that is not geared towards the world of work. Despite many people being out of work, companies are unable to fill vacancies due to a lack of suitably qualified applicants. Educational levels at public colleges for technical and vocational education and training (TVET) are also low, with teaching staff being poorly trained. There are no practically oriented, workplace-based vocational training programmes in which enterprises can play a major role in the training of skilled workers. Enterprises are primarily focused on providing in-house training to their own staff and do not work with the public TVET colleges.


In Gauteng and the Eastern Cape Province a pilot measure has been established for a dual skills development programme for the training of qualified skilled workers. The measure is both practice-oriented and geared towards the needs of business and industry, and is one in which enterprises play a major role.

South Africa (SD4GE). Process manager instructs an apprentice. © GIZ


Commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is working closely with the South African Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), four TVET colleges, business and professional associations, and individual enterprises.

The programme supports a South African Dual System Pilot Project, which is funded by the DHET’s National Skills Fund. This project is testing a dual-structured apprenticeship for electricians and plumbers at four TVET colleges, and it provides the South African Government with a reference point for the demand-driven and business-oriented training of skilled workers. This should strengthen the position, not only of the DHET and selected TVET colleges, but also of employers and professional bodies. Practical training phases in the enterprises are to be combined with teaching modules in the TVET colleges. The pilot project enables the South African Government to gain learning experiences, which it can feed into its policy and strategy processes.

The programme focuses on five areas of activity:

  1. Establishing mechanisms and processes for a South African dual skills development programme
  2. Strengthening management capacities at TVET colleges and in enterprises
  3. Improving the quality of training at TVET colleges
  4. Establishing assessment procedures with the involvement of enterprises
  5. Improving the service delivery capacities of TVET colleges

Results achieved so far

New occupational qualifications for electricians and plumbers have been officially recognised and registered. The professional association for plumbers and the business association ‘Swiss-South African Cooperation Initiative’ have been registered with the National Skills Fund. As the main employers, they will assume a coordinating role for up to 200 apprentices in the dual skills development programme on behalf of the enterprises involved.

South Africa (SD4GE). Mentor informs apprentice about the functionality of a high voltage cable plug and socket (Photo taken for learning material). © GIZ

Preparations have been completed for the training of 175 apprentices. In August 2016, approximately 100 apprentices at four locations started their training as electricians. By the end of 2016, a further 50 apprentices will be able to begin their training as plumbers in two other locations.