Launch of the Association of Colleges South Africa

On April 25 2013, British High Commissioner to South Africa Nicola Brewer attended the launch of the Association of Colleges South Africa.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Dame Nicola Brewer

“Thank you , David, and Programme Director.

Honourable Minister, DG, distinguished colleagues and Friends. I hope I may have your permission to use one of my favourite SA expresseions, “all protocol observed.”

I am delighted to be with you at the launch of the Association of Colleges in South Africa. AoCSA may not be the best known set of initials yet, but I am sure it will catch on. This occasion marks a really important outcome of collaboration between our two countries.

There’s a saying in my country that ‘success has many fathers’. David talked about being ion at the beginning. Well, in this case, it was you, Minister, who came up with the idea. When you visited the UK back in 2010, you addressed the annual conference of the UK’s Association of Colleges. You conceived of the association as a model for an organization which might be established here in South Africa to represent the voices and interests of the post-school training sector and in particular the Further Education Colleges.

Everyone who cares about South Africa’s continued success – and there are many of us around the world – is aware of the triple challenges your government has identified: poverty, inequality, unemployment. In these difficult economic times many other countries are facing similar challenges, especially unemployment. One critical action to address the employment challenge is enhancing the provision of skills training for young people. Just as important is to match skills training to employer needs, in order to address youth underemployment. And, as the DG has just said, to support economic growth.

I am very pleased that, collectively, we have been able to turn your concept, Minister, into reality.

  • our Department enlisted the help of the South African College Principals Organisation and the Further Education and Training College Employers’ Organisation (SACPO and FETCEO – more acronyms!) to establish the new body
  • working with your Department, the British Council commissioned research into organizational models of college associations in other countries around the world, and developed a comparative analysis
  • the British Council then deployed its Skills for Employability project, which draws upon experience all over the world, and which was formally launched in South Africa by our Business Minister, Dr Vince Cable, at a round table discussion with DHET and other stakeholders, here in South Africa in October 2012
  • the British Council also worked very closely in partnership with the National Business Initiative to ensure that UK consultancy inputs under the project – from the UK AoC and from the British Council in the UK - have been closely matched to South African government policies, such as the National Skills Accord and of course the National Development Plan

I would like to extend my thanks and congratulations to all the partners I have mentioned – to your Department, Minister, for keeping the skills agenda so firmly on the radar, to my colleagues in the British Council for providing a comparative international perspective, and to the National Business Initiative for advocating the necessary links between training and the business world.

But I am conscious that the establishment of AoCSA is just the first step on a collaborative journey, and we now have to take forward a raft of institutional links between FE Colleges in South Africa and the UK under the umbrella of the Skills for Employability project. I think that this fits very neatly into your own vision for the role of the AoCSA:

  • curriculum design and delivery
  • quality improvement
  • partnerships with employers
  • engagement with local communities

The commitment to collaborate in this area was highlighted in the Communique issued at the 9th Inter-Ministerial Bilateral Forum between our two Governments, in June 2011. The formal establishment of the AoCSA represents concrete progress ahead of the 10th bilateral forum, which will take place in South Africa later this year.

I am very proud that South Africa sees my country as a valued partner in this area, and we look forward to continuing this international partnership in the years ahead.

Congratulations again to all involved in the creation of the AoCSA, and my very best wishes for the contribution I know it will make, to advancing what the Programme Director aptly called ‘revolution’.”

Published 25 April 2013