Reflections on the 2018 IVETA conference in Cape Town South Africa

14 Sep 2018 12:08 PM | IVETA (Administrator)

From 13 to 16 August 2018, a number of the IVETA Executive Committee were fortunate to attend the 2018 IVETA conference hosted by the South African College Principals Organisation (SACPO) and held in beautiful Cape Town South Africa. Several hundred delegates attended the conference from some 25 countries.

The conference timing was all the more meaningful because it coincided with the Nelson Mandela Centenary Celebrations . This gave us the opportunity to reflect on his achievements and his belief in education and its life-changing potential for young people.

Over the course of four days SACPO got the balance of activities exactly right including:

·        A wide diversity of stimulating presentations and discussions
·        Plenty of networking opportunities and time to visit a great array of exhibitors
·        A site visit to False Bay College (more on that later)
·        Fun social activities including great music at the reception cocktail dinner and a fantastic guided tour, wine tasting and dinner at beautiful Groot Constantia Estate.

And it was all hosted and organised with the attention to detail that good conferences need. The venue, facilities, staff and food at the Southern Sun Cape Sun Hotel were exceptional and the SACPO support team were always on hand to ensure smooth running.

Click here to see pictures from the conference.

Some of my highlights

There were so many highlights but here are some particular ones.

The Minister’s opening address

The opening address by Ms Naledi Pandor, the Honourable Minister of Higher Education and Training in South Africa who spoke from the heart and with deep insight about the potential for TVET to positively impact on individual lives and on the economic wellbeing of South Africa.

She delivered such common sense messages about the  need for young people to be creative, responsive, analytical and adaptive and to imagine beyond the present, in our rapidly changing world and she emphasised the importance of supporting and developing colleges and staff – “We who train today have to train for tomorrow”.

She spoke of how important it is to develop the skills of entrepreneurship that will enable young people to be adaptive, innovative and run their own businesses and she emphasised the imperative to turn around the “deficit notion of TVET”.

The Minister’s messages really resonated with me and as always when I interact across IVETA’s global networks, I am struck by our shared challenges – our countries and contexts might be very different but our challenges are so similar – we all need skilled teachers who deliver high quality TVET that meets industry, employer and individual learner needs and contributes to building a strong economy.

This is the value of being part of IVETA’s international network – we can share ideas and solutions for our shared challenges.  I think we should make it our mission to turn the “deficit notion of TVET” described by the Minister into the “value-add of TVET” – the value-add to people’s learning and lives, work, careers and business prospects, to the prosperity of industry and employers and to the economy as a whole.

The contribution of Professor Cecil Bodibe as Scholar-in-Residence

Professor Bodibe had several roles in the lead up and during the conference as part of his “overall responsibility to the academic content of the conference” but I particularly enjoyed his summing up each morning of the previous day’s presentations and discussions and his insightful observations.  It’s rare at a conference when it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the richness of information presented, to be offered the opportunity for a concise analysis, debrief and reflection, led by an eminent scholar. Congratulations to SACPO for engaging Professor Bodibe in this role and thank you to the Professor for his contribution.

Visit to Westlake Campus of False Bay College

I work in VET policy in Australia and what I always enjoy most at our international conferences is the opportunity to visit a college and see TVET brought to life – when we move beyond “policy frameworks” and see TVET in action on the ground.

At the beautiful and spacious Westlake Campus of False Bay College staff led us on tours of the electrical workshops, yacht and boat building academy, and the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Rapid Incubator.  I really enjoyed hearing about the College’s approach to providing full access and participation for students with disabilities, learning about the fact that the graduates from the boat building academy are in demand for jobs in the international maritime market, and how the Centre for Entrepreneurship is inspiring and supporting young people to become entrepreneurs and establish their own start-ups – a move towards job creation rather than job seeking.

A big thank you to the management and staff who generously gave of their time and led the visit.

Our one disappointment

The weather defeated us on our last day when delegates were due to visit the Robben Island Museum and high winds and rain led to cancellation of all ferries to the island.  It was to be my highlight of visiting Cape Town, to pay my respects to Nelson Mandela in the year of his Centenary.

I guess I’ll just have to return to Cape Town!


Once again, thank you to the South African College Principals Organisation from all of us on the IVETA Executive for your warm welcome and wonderful hosting of the 2018 IVETA Conference.  May we continue to learn from the knowledge we gained and the networks we established.

Margo Couldrey

General Secretary IVETA

September 2018


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