TVET engineering students’ perceptions of the value of their qualification and the prospects of employment


  • Anthony Tolika Sibiya University of the Witwatersrand (REAL Centre)
  • Nceba Nyembezi Nelson Mandela University
  • David Bogopa Nelson Mandela University



Empowerment, TVET engineering qualification, skills, unemployment, youths


The study described in this article explored the ways in which selected technical and vocational education and training (TVET) engineering students perceived their qualifications and employment prospects, given the youth unemployment rate in general and, in particular, that among TVET graduates. While the unemployment rate among South Africans with a tertiary qualification stood at 7%, it appeared to be a staggering 33% among TVET graduates in 2017. In order to gather data from a sample of TVET engineering students, a self-administered qualitative questionnaire was used to collect data from two colleges. A total of 113 TVET engineering students at the two colleges completed the questionnaire. The gender profile of the participants was 64 females and 49 males, who were all between the ages of 18 and 29 years. The findings showed that the TVET engineering qualification does not guarantee employment because of the lack of jobs in the South African economy. Moreover, the participants perceived unemployment as a function of job scarcity rather than of a lack of skills. However, some participants perceived a TVET engineering qualification to be in demand, and this demand is attributed to the electricity crisis/load-shedding in South Africa. The majority of the 79 participants, who perceived unemployment to be an economic crisis, recommended that a solution to unemployment should be to make voluntary service compulsory in both the public and the private sector. To this end, the government should make available funding for small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) and also encourage and fund students to study beyond their undergraduate qualification. As an entry-level requirement for employment, experience is seen as an unfair practice and a barrier to entry for graduates.  

Author Biographies

Anthony Tolika Sibiya, University of the Witwatersrand (REAL Centre)

Anthony Tolika Sibiya is a PhD candidate and researcher at the Centre for Researching Education and Labour (REAL), based at the University of the Witwatersrand. He is also a Jakes Gerwel Research Fellow and head of Research and Policy at the South African Youth Council. His research interests include the political economy of skills and education, workplace changes, youth development, the labour market and transformation.

Nceba Nyembezi, Nelson Mandela University

Nceba Nyembezi is a Senior Researcher at Nelson Mandela University, in the Department of Engagement and Transformation. He supervises masters and doctoral students and mentors junior staff. He leads new interventions for building capacity and supporting lecturers to integrate technology and HIV/Aids in all learning contexts.

David Bogopa, Nelson Mandela University

David Bogopa is an anthropologist based in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Nelson Mandela University. His research interests include, among others, labour, gender, sport, development, heritage and cultural issues. He currently serves on the editorial board of the Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology.




How to Cite

Anthony Tolika Sibiya, Nceba Nyembezi, & David Bogopa. (2021). TVET engineering students’ perceptions of the value of their qualification and the prospects of employment. Journal of Vocational, Adult and Continuing Education and Training, 4(1), 16.