TVET policy in South Africa: Caught between neo-liberalism and privatisation?

  • Seamus Needham University of the Western Cape
Keywords: TVET; TVET colleges; privatisation; education and training


Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) policy in South Africa since 1994 has stressed the vital importance of this sector in contributing to economic growth and alleviating socio-economic inequities. Twenty years after these policies were first set down and replicated in subsequent legislation, South Africa’s TVET sector has not been able to contribute to the key policy priority of reducing unemployment. Moreover, the sector has had a limited impact on achieving the nation’s economic goals. From the perspective of developing human capital, significant state investment in this sector has realised very low economic returns. There is extensive literature on the privatisation of education and the effects this has had on education and training policies and systems. This article draws on theoretical approaches that analyse the internal and external changes to public education and training systems as a result of privatisation. Furthermore, the article argues that both public and private TVET providers have been subjected to differing endogenous and exogenous privatisation approaches as defined by Ball and Youdell (2007). These dual approaches have affected the ability of the TVET college sector to respond effectively to South Africa’s education and training needs for economic growth, despite the prioritisation of this sector in government policy.

Author Biography

Seamus Needham, University of the Western Cape

Seamus Needham is a Senior Lecturer at the University of the Western Cape Institute for Post-School Studies (IPSS). He performs a project management role in coordinating funded and commissioned research projects for the IPSS. His current research area is articulation between TVET colleges, higher education and the world of work. He is currently completing a PhD in this area.

How to Cite
Needham, S. (2019). TVET policy in South Africa: Caught between neo-liberalism and privatisation?. Journal of Vocational, Adult and Continuing Education and Training, 2(2), 82.