TVET Colleges Explained

by Staff Reporter

We often hear about TVET college without really understanding what they are, who they’re for and what they do. This article answers these questions. 

TVET colleges were introduced in South Africa as an effort to make technical and vocational education and training (TVET) more accessible to all.

They offer a wide range of skills development programmes that aim to provide students with the practical skills and knowledge needed to enter the workforce. There are 50 public TVET colleges spread across the country, each with its own focus areas and specialisations.

What is a TVET College?

“TVET” stands for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, and this is exactly what TVET colleges aim to provide. TVET is a term used around the world and it is the part of the education system that combines education, training and skills development.

The courses offered at TVET colleges have both theoretical and practical components. This means that students will learn both the theoretical knowledge and the practical skills needed to be successful in their chosen field.

TVET colleges are an alternative to universities for students who want to enter the workforce without getting a traditional degree. They offer vocational and practical training in a wide range of subjects, from engineering and construction to hospitality and business.

TVET Colleges Explained

When a qualification is vocational, it means it is related to a specific occupation. This means that if you choose to study towards a qualification in engineering studies, you will be learning how to do a specific job in the engineering field, such as becoming an electrician or diesel mechanic.

TVET Qualifications vs University Degrees

TVET qualifications are not the same as university degrees University degrees are typically aimed at allowing you to work as a professional engineer, where TVET qualifications teach you what you need to know about specific occupations within the engineering field. TVET qualifications in engineering studies can qualify you to study towards a national diploma in engineering and eventually towards a BTech degree, which means you will be able to qualify as a professional engineering technician. This applies to the various practical fields within the vocational courses.

Do I qualify to study at a TVET college?

In order to apply to study at a TVET college, you will have to have successfully completed grade 9 and be at least 16 years old. (Some of the qualifications have more subject-specific requirements than those offered at a grade 9 level.)

This means that you are able to study at a TVET college without a conventional matric so that you can start working towards a specific career from the age of 16 and enter the workforce at a younger age.

How many TVET colleges are there in South Africa?

We have compiled a comprehensive list of the 50 TVET colleges spread across the country, each with its own focus areas and specialisations. 

TVET Colleges Explained

What types of courses are offered at TVET colleges?

TVET colleges offer an extremely wide range of vocational courses, preparing students for a number of careers.

There are four main types of qualifications offered at TVET colleges:

  1. the National Certificate Vocational, NC(V) qualifications,
  2. the Report 191 Programmes,
  3. the National Introductory Certificate (N4) and
  4. National Certificates (N4)

1. National Certificate Vocational - NC(V) 

NC(V) programmes begin after grade 9 and are typically three-year programmes that take you from an NQF level 2 qualification (grade 9) to an NQF level 4 qualification.

This is the same level as a traditional matric, which means that you are able to apply to study at most universities of technology and to some university courses.

Each NC(V) qualification has a total of seven subjects per NQF level.

Once you have completed an NC(V) qualification, you are able to work in your field as a qualified professional or study further towards a higher certificate, national diploma or bachelor of technology degree.

The following NC(V) qualifications are offered by TVET colleges:

  • Civil Engineering and Building Construction
  • Drawing Office Practice
  • Education and Development
  • Electrical Infrastructure Construction
  • Engineering and Related Design
  • Finance, Economics and Accounting
  • Hospitality
  • Information Technology and Computer Science
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Mechatronics
  • Office Administration
  • Primary Agriculture
  • Primary Health
  • Process Instrumentation
  • Process Plant Operations
  • Safety in Society
  • Tourism

Take a look at the DHET’s Table of subjects you will be expected to take in order to complete each of these qualifications.  

2. Report 191 Programmes 

The Report 191 Programmes are offered in Engineering, Business, Performing Arts, Utility and Educational Studies and allow you to work in a range of careers or to pursue a national diploma.

These courses are not the same as degrees offered by the universities in South Africa, however, you do qualify to pursue a national diploma. After that, you can study towards a degree.

Take a look at our article Engineering Qualification: Diplomas Versus Degrees highlighting the differences between degrees and diplomas in engineering.  

The following Report 191 programmes available to study are:

National Certificates:

  • N1: Engineering Studies
  • N2: Engineering Studies
  • N3: Engineering Studies
  • Multi-Disciplinary Drawing Office Practice

Non-national Certificates:

  • Engineering Certificate of Competency
  • Installation Rules
  • Specialised Electrical Installation Codes

3. National Introductory Certificates

National Introductory Certificates and National Certificates are qualifications that you pursue after completing either an NC(V) or Report 191 qualification.

National Introductory Certificates are often used in order to qualify you to apply to pursue a National Certificate without having to redo some of your post-school education.

National Introductory Certificates - Courses offered:

The following National Introductory Certificates are offered by TVET colleges in South Africa: 

  • N4: Art and Design
  • N4: Business Studies
  • N4: Clothing Production
  • N4: Educare
  • N4: Food Services

4. National Certificates (N4)

National Certificates - Courses offered:

The following National Certificates are offered by TVET colleges in South Africa:

  • N4: Art and Design
  • N4: Business Management
  • N4: Clothing Production
  • N4: Educare
  • N4: Engineering Studies
  • N4: Farming Management
  • N4: Fertilizer Manufacturing
  • N4: Financial Management
  • N4: Hair Care
  • N4: Hospitality and Catering Services
  • N4: Human Resource Management
  • N4: Interior Decorating
  • N4: Legal Secretary
  • N4: Management Assistant
  • N4: Marketing Management
  • N4: Medical Secretary
  • N4: Popular Music: Composition
  • N4: Popular Music: Performance
  • N4: Popular Music: Studio Work
  • N4: Public Management
  • N4: Public Relations
  • N4: Textiles
  • N4: Tourism

How are TVET colleges different from traditional universities or colleges?

TVET colleges offer vocational and practical training in a wide range of subjects, from engineering and construction to hospitality and business.

This type of education is different from the traditional university education, which focuses more on theoretical knowledge.

TVET Students

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in a trade or industry, then a TVET college might be the right choice for you. With their focus on practical skills and knowledge, TVET colleges can provide you with the training you need to enter the workforce and start your career.

With the enormous range of qualifications that TVET Colleges offer, you can study towards a career path that suits you and your lifestyle.

TVET colleges are a great option for students who are unsure that tertiary education is for them and would rather become qualified in a specific field to do a specific job.

Have a look at our comprehensive list of TVET Colleges in South Africa to find out more about specific TVET colleges and to apply to them.

Funding your studies at a TVET college in South Africa.

If you need assistance with funding, we can help! Fundi offers student financing that covers a range of costs. Try our loan calculator to learn more about how we can help you develop and achieve your goals!

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