The curriculum as preparation for the world of work: A critical analysis of the learner curriculum for young adults at a Community Education and Training College.
The main objective of the research is to analyze critically how the curriculum at a Community College in the Western Cape prepares young adults for the world of work in the fields of Travel and Tourism and Small Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) and develops their capabilities to become functioning members in society. I was guided by concepts such as knowledge and skills necessary to enhance employability as well as people‟s wellbeing and capability development. The data was gathered through interviews and analysis of national and institutional policy documents. The analysis of documents helped me to understand the curriculum‟s orientation to the world of work and its responsiveness to personal and social needs of young adults. The interview data helped me to reflect on the main research question, “What are the perspectives of academic staff, industry/sector representatives and young adults themselves on the knowledge and skills needed in the curriculum to prepare young adults for the world of work?” My research shows that the curriculum of the ABET Level 4 programme has become more vocationally oriented. It prepares students for the world of work in a general way; but there are some limitations. There is no practical work experience or work exposure as in the curricula of programmes at TVET colleges and universities. The research also found that the formal curriculum in combination with the extra-curricular activities had benefits for students in terms of personal development and equipping them to function better in their social environments. However, offering these activities depends on efforts made by lecturers over and above their normal duties and on donations from various sources. Extending or sustaining this combination of activities requires adequate staffing and resources. Finally the research highlighted various barriers students encountered and suggested that many of these barriers arise from structural constraints in the world of work and society. The research suggests that it is necessary but not sufficient to focus on the employability of young people and to equip them with knowledge and skills to prepare them for the world of work; it is also necessary to look beyond employability and consider the wellbeing of students (Powell, 2012; Jackson, 2005; Baatjes and Baatjes, 2008; Ngcwangu, 2019; Motala and Pampallis, 2007). Therefore my research suggests that education should not have a narrow focus and that the curriculum should integrate vocational and general education (Young, 1999). Furthermore, there should be a holistic approach in the curriculum which responds to multiple objectives including preparation for work and for functioning effectively in other areas of one‟s life. This implies that the curriculum should prepare students for the world of work AND take into account their well-being, dreams and aspirations for a better life.