Growing the TVET knowledge base in the south: South African postgraduate output, 2008–2018
The Third International Conference on TVET (technical and vocational education and training), held by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Shanghai in 2012, resolved that growing research on TVET had to be an integral part of the overall strategy to strengthen the sector. Historically in South Africa, much of the targeted TVET research has been conducted by agencies outside of the university, but the last ten years have seen an increase in the number of TVET studies being undertaken by postgraduate students at universities, largely due to national policies that have encouraged higher education to take a greater interest in TVET research and development. Given the policy focus on TVET and the increased support for research in the field, this article reflects on the growth of postgraduate research on TVET in South Africa in the past ten years. Government targets for postgraduate outputs have prioritised doctoral studies, and, while TVET-related doctoral graduates are relatively few in number, there are signs of an emerging community of researchers and also of an expanding, though localised and highly contextual, knowledge base on TVET. The authors identify a number of aspects observed across the research outputs which could aid further reflection on the kind of contribution that postgraduate TVET research is making. Finally, attention is drawn to the nascent cadre of TVET intellectuals who can – indeed, must – provide much-needed supervisory capacity in this field.