Through the course of 2021, High Gear experienced multiple challenges ranging from unprecedented CoVid-19 and civil unrest disruptions – It was indeed a difficult year plagued by delays, postponements and cancellations in the context of constantly changing schedules and tragic losses among key stakeholders. However, the key characteristic displayed by all of our stakeholders is justifiably summed up in a single word: Resilience.
In 2021, IYF encountered a multitude of challenges impacting the TVET college system and industry in Durban, including two widespread Covid outbreaks that led to TVET system closures; significant civil unrest that again led to widespread industry and TVET closures; and (hopefully) temporary industry workforce reductions as a result of the global supply shortages of semi-conductors that are consequently depressing orders for automotive components.

Against this backgrop, IYF and our national and provincial High Gear partners worked to adapt approaches to enable significant progress progress in the areas of career guidance, project-based learning and work-integrated learning, and establish partnership platforms that will enable more rapid project delivery and milestone success in 2022.

Key progress included: 

  • Rapidly evolving partnerships with the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) and of the Office of the Presidency’s SAYouth initiative through co-implementation through High Gear and its associated partners;
  • Designing and launching portable mechanical engineering and electrical demonstration kits that support TVET lecturers to bring engineering theory to life in their classrooms. High Gear is also working closely with the national government to explore embedding High Gear’s demokit model and other course upgrades into new TVET engineering qualifications that are under design;
  • Development of an online career services platform with NAACAM, and linked to the national government’s platform, that High Gear will soon launch. The platform is called Yakh’iFuture, which translates to “Build Your Future”. The site will provide TVET students with different career guidance resources, such as a ‘Learn How to Build a Car’ feature, a page where young people can learn more about key job roles in the automotive industry, and custom mini-games where they can build industry-aligned skills in a fun way. The site will also launch with roughly 30 videos of TVET graduates who work in the target industry, so that young people can listen to career guidance from their counterparts.
  • High Gear itself is now reflected in the country’s COVID economic recovery plans, and we’re also aligned with the priority industries and approaches of the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention

This highlights the most significant achievements of the year and has resulted in strong and ever developing buy-in from Elangeni College. High Gear has been grafted into their broader curriculum planning and structuring. In addition, IYF is looking forward to the college assisting the High Gear initiative with advocacy at the provincial level. This was reflected in the Annual Strategic Planning for 2022 event held on the 6th & 7th December 2022.

High Gear agreements with Elangeni College for the following year include:

  • One workshop per quarter to strategically plan around the three core activity areas for High Gear;
  • Strengthening of PBL Tracking System and embedding this in their Central ICT systems;
  • Drafting a Direct Data Sharing Agreement with Elangeni college for access to their database of students for communication across all internal platforms, ie: Email, website, WhatsApp, Twitter and the college news magazine for a monthly entry;
  • Co-attendance at each relevant DHET/SAPCO meeting with Elangeni college representatives;
  • Assistance with outreach to Elangeni College’s partners potential uptake of High Gear at other institutions;
  • Integration of the Yakh’iFuture platform into their College website and student portal;
  • Creation of an electronic WIL platform for NATED 4 – 6 Students that is co-managed by IYF partners and IYF provincial management;
  • Launch of a biannual work-integrated learning workshop with the college and surrounding companies;
  • Working Sessions for continuous improvement of High Gear at Elangeni College.

Clearly, 2021 provided High Gear with quick-wins that have boosted confidence in the programme, as well as provided a foundation for committed partnership. IYF believes that all commitments made will be achieved and expanded as we find niche areas for curriculum development – Making High Gear both Strong and Resilient for 2022.