Originally from the Eastern Cape, Sibahle, or Siba, as her colleagues affectionately know her, travelled to Cape Town to pursue higher education and eventually get permanent work. She has already completed her Management Assistant N4 – N6 Certificate at the College of Cape Town which is renowned as one of the local Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges.
“I heard about this opportunity from my supervisor from the College of Cape Town,” Sibahle explains. “I was inspired by the work that Vulamathuba is doing in providing social and economic development support to previously marginalised individuals for them to access opportunities and gain employment”.
TVET colleges tend to be mischaracterised and people often disregard them as higher education institutions. However, Sibahle says that it has been convenient for her and the best option to complete her studies and gain the practical experience required when seeking work.
Sibahle’s experience illustrates how TVETs are structured. “It takes 18 months to go to college and 18 months of practical experience to get a National Diploma,” she explains. While doing my in-service training, I am required to sign a logbook which consists of all my duties and responsibilities aligned to the Management Assistant qualification such as taking meeting minutes, data capturing, sending, and receiving emails, bookings, requisitions, etc. and I will be required to submit evidence together with my logbook to graduate at the end of the 18 months”.
Reflecting on her journey, Sibahle notes, “During my last year at high school, we had a career exhibition whereby we were being exposed to different careers and different higher education institutions. That is when I took an interest in TVET colleges. My decision was influenced mainly because I’m from a low-income family. I chose to study Management Assistance because it teaches basic computer and leadership skills related to the office environment. I knew that if I went to a TVET college, I would be busy at school with theory for 18 months, and, for the remaining 18 months, I would be at a workplace doing my internship”.
Sibahle’s journey has progressed well but has not been without challenges. She had to juggle both academic and in-service work during the COVID-19 lockdown. “During the height of COVID-19, we had to work from home, and I had to complete some of the work with minimal supervision. My communication skills came in handy as I had to consult with a number of my colleagues together with my supervisor so that I could get the work done”.
Regardless of these hurdles, Sibahle managed to balance her studies and work. Shedding light on how she achieved this, she says, “Studying and working requires a lot of patience, self-discipline, determination, dedication and a delicate balance between staying productive at work and paying attention to your studies. I always plan ahead, and sometimes I would study during my lunch break at work”.
Sibahle highlights the benefits and skills she was exposed to that will strengthen her professionally and personally. “The Work Integrated Learning (WIL) opportunity has massively helped me improve my communication, computer, leadership, conflict resolution and emotional intelligence skills. It has also helped me to identify my strengths and weaknesses and how I can improve my weaknesses. I have acquired all the working experience needed in the Portfolio of Evidence (POE), which will help me graduate. I was also given a chance to complete a Project Management course and get my driver’s licence”.
“I would definitely advise people to consider public TVET colleges, should they have the opportunity to”.
Sibahle has been inspired by the many opportunities available at Communicare and Vulamathuba Empumelelo, and thanks them for the opportunities they have afforded her.