Local labour environments and FET colleges: three case studies
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This chapter focuses on conditions around individual college sites that shape the ways in which they formalise their interaction with local economies and social environments. It sets out to understand the respective links of three FET colleges to their worlds of work
or local economies. The three FET colleges comprise ten technical education institutional sites that were previously defined as state and state-aided technical colleges, colleges of education and manpower centres in the provinces of the North West, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State. Observations about the links between FET colleges and local economies and social environments are based on qualitative research conducted at ten institutional sites during 2002. The research employed four sets of questions to understand and interpret the established cultural and social networks that either inhibited or facilitated change.
Undoubtedly, the new FET policy landscape, along with that of the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs), provides an important platform for the establishment of formal networks within FET college environments: networks within individual local
settings that will be critical for the successful implementation of FET policy. However, many individual college sites are still struggling to come to terms with articulated notions of demand, specialisation and inter-linkage (of what to do, how to do it and where to get
the resources to effect the changes). In fact, the chapter's key observation is that many colleges at the local level have not fully absorbed the intended aims of FET policy outlooks, and that this potentially could derail some of the expected policy outcomes.
It is argued that there are a number of underlying issues that are often presumed or overlooked within the different college contexts that inform the ways in which they respond to their expected roles. The daily reality of local institutional provision can certainly contradict legislative visions.