Learners' experience of the integration of theory and practice in a wholesale and retail generalist (NQF Level 2) learnership
De Mink, Karen Joy
MetadataShow full item record
Skills development is essential for every country to keep abreast with, at least one aspect of globalisation, namely, changes regarding production in the modern world. The way in which each country implements its skills development programme will depend on the unique history and circumstances of that country. Germany and Japan are amongst those countries that opted for a high skills strategy, whilst the United Kingdom opted for a low skills strategy. Kraak (2005) argues that South Africa would benefit by implementing a ‘multi-pronged’ skills strategy because many of its citizens are unskilled or have very low skills. This approach would cater for lowskills, intermediate-skills and continue to develop high skills. South Africa’s inputs-based education and training system has been replaced by a controversial outcomes-based approach. Many authors view an outcomes-based programme as lacking theory or content (Kraak, 1998; Young, 2004; Brown & Keep, 2000; Boreham, 2002), as reductive and mechanistic (Bates & Dutson, 1995, in Boreham, 2002) and mainly work-based and assessment-driven (Boreham, 2002). These criticisms question the quality of outcomes-based programmes. New laws promulgated by the South African government have introduced learnerships that form part of this new Skills Development strategy. This study reviewed the general policy on skills development and explored the experiences of learners who completed a Wholesale and Retail Learnership in the context of the structured college-based learning, the practical work-based learning as well as the integration of theory and practice, in South Africa. A qualitative approach was selected to enhance the researcher’s understanding of the personal perspectives and experiences of learners who completed the learnership. The case study approach was used with a focus on analysing the subjective opinions of this group of learners. The research methods employed to clarify the understanding of how these learners experienced the learnership were semi-structured interviews, observations and analysis of documents. The research shows that South Africa’s multi-level National Qualifications Framework provides for academic as well as vocational training and promotes a ‘multi-pronged’ skills strategy. The findings suggest that the learners on this learnership experienced the theoretical learning in the college and the practical learning on the job as an integrated whole. The study concludes that the structured college-based learning enabled the learners on this learnership to implement what they learnt at college in the workplace.