By Qhawekazi Memani 23 November 2020
Director: Corporative Education & External Liaison- Ms Annie Moletsane
It’s no secret that COVID-19 has changed and distorted the way businesses and institutions operate. Several Vaal University of Technology (VUT) students, who were on Work Integrated Learning (WIL), internally and externally had to be put on-hold until such a time that everything is back to normal. A time no one knows whether it will ever come.
The Co-operative Education Department is doing everything in its power to ensure that students are placed for WIL or Internship “We did well in 2019 and were looking forward too many successes in 2020, however, COVID-19 drastically changed things. No one was ready, neither industry partners nor funders. However, this was not doom and gloom as some companies were able to assist by giving students projects to work on. We had to communicate with the different Faculties and professional bodies to seek advice on how to remedy the situation as WIL is a compulsory component for certain modules to enable students to progress to the next level of their studies” said Annie Moletsane, Director: Corporative Education & External Liaison.
Faced with all these difficulties, a decision was taken that modalities could be used to mitigate the existing problem and project-based learning. The professional bodies, ECSA, HPCSA and DHET responsible for making decisions about WIL, realised that project-based learning will not work and couldn’t give a go ahead in this instance.
“SETA’s kept to their commitment and support by continuing to pay stipends to students during the lockdown period. Some companies were able to accommodate students during these trying times and are still doing so. However, we have a lot of students who are not placed because some companies informed us that the impact of the pandemic makes it impossible for them to take back WIL students. The situation has forced them to consider retrenching staff, whilst others could even close down – the future is uncertain”
Strategizing to see a way out, “a decision was taken to give students letters and a list of companies to approach in the meantime. In preparation for 2021, we have shared information with industry partners, requesting them to conduct interviews before the end of 2020,” Ms Moletsane said.
Saddened, Ms Moletsane highlighted that they have lost companies they worked with for many years and they are now starting afresh to build new relationships and get companies on board to support WIL.
The Department’s year program indicates that they managed to place 38 students at ArcelorMittal for 2020, majority of which are from the Faculties of Engineering and Applied and Computer Sciences. Discussions are underway to investigate the possibility of accommodating another 40 in 2021. Eskom has been approached, together with other industries.
Currently the department is working on hosting online workshops for students to create awareness about services that are offered by the department, procedures to follow, the do’s and don’ts in a work environment.
The department prides itself of the Employer Function hosted annually in November with the purpose of acknowledging industry partners and funders for their contribution towards skills development. The function has been postponed for 2020 due to COVID-19, “It will be hosted in 2021, should the situation in the country improve” Mrs Moletsane concluded.
Thomas Raseshloka & Nthabiseng Mokwena
F’SASEC VUT students “Vision 2020”
The French South African Schneider Electric Education Centre (F’SASEC) warmly welcomed this year’s students on 17 February.
The current cohort of students is named “Vision 2020” and is divided into two groups of 23 students each to make it easier for lecturers and students to build an educational relationship. The name “Vision 2020” is in hope of the students growing insights and understanding the electrical engineering industry far better.
On 25 February, Vision 2020 partook in an induction to prepare them for the use of the F’SASEC labs and facilities.
Mr Potego Morwamotshe, facilitator at F’SASEC, said that the main purpose for this induction was to familiarise students with the rules and regulations as well as the importance of safety in electricity. Mr Morwamotshe added that the rules are the first thing students need to know and adhere to before they can start with their practical’s. “I have to make sure that they understand all these rules,” he concluded.
Mr Riaan Greeff, F’SASEC Co-ordinator noted: “Our goal this year as F’SASEC is to make sure students believe more in themselves.” He elaborated on how the team always encourages students to ask questions and participate in lectures because that is vital for self-empowerment.
F’SASEC is looking forward to having a productive year filled with determination and one that will be memorable and successful for Vision 2020.