Apprenticeships of the 21st Century
The A21 system in South Africa forms part of a global renaissance of apprenticeship development that is broadly based on the dual education system that is practised in countries like Switzerland, Germany and Austria. The benefits of dual system of education and training are well documented for learners and the economy of the country, the result of which is very low unemployment, especially among the youth.
The development of the South African version of the dual system started at national level in 2012 and continues today through a partnership between the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), the Swiss South Africa Cooperative Initiative (SACCI) and German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ). The Western Cape Government has become involved through a partnership between the Apprenticeship Game Changer and the regional DHET structure in the Western Cape that includes all six public TVET Colleges.
The A21 system utilizes the emerging new, industry based occupational qualifications that are being developed under the auspices of the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations. Implementation of the A21 system is being realised through what are known as the Centres of Specialisation (COS) Programme.
Although the national programme is initially focused on artisan trade qualifications, there already plans and processes underway to expand the programme and system to non-artisan trades so that all occupations can benefit from a dual system approach to training. The Apprenticeship Game Changer is already realising this expansion by developing A21s for Computer Technicians, Bicycle Mechanics, Water Process Controllers and Solar Photovoltaic Technicians.