The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande has made a clarion call to high school learners to further their studies through technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges to address the skills shortage in the country. The Minister made this announcement during the 6th Annual Mandela Day Career Development Festival held at uMfolozi TVET College in Esikhawini and University of Zululand.“On completion of your grade 12 in 2015, many of you will need to make important career choices that will shape your future. Through these Mandela Day initiatives, we as a Department continue to make you aware of the importance of furthering your learning experiences either at a TVET college, University, Learnership programmes or through any other forms of technical training,” the minister said. Nzimande also said that the current administration, under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma, took a decision that technical and vocational education and training (TVET) must lie at the heart of the skills and economic development of our country. “It is precisely in light of this decision that in the past five years we have been hosting the annual Nelson Mandela Career Expo at a Technical and Vocational Education and Training College as a way of profiling this important sector while providing much needed career guidance to learners,” said Nzimande. The Minister added that many learners often wonder why they should study at a TVET College. The answer is quite simple: these institutions offer industry-relevant education and training to improve the chances for young people to get into employment and perform socially useful work. UNIZULU Acting Vice-Chancellor Prof Xoliswa Mtose said the festival aims to create awareness amongst the youth that they must consider pursuing careers in the scarce skills fields. “This is a step in the right direction for the economic development of this country. It is not enough for young people to just be educated, but we want them to be educated for a purpose,” said Prof Mtose.The Festival provided the ideal forum that gave direction for various career paths. The career festival targets school learners especially from poor backgrounds as well as unemployed youth, to expose them to post-school opportunities and career choices. Nzimande said: “One of Nelson Mandela’s main concerns was the future of the youth. He passionately believed that education could enable young people to fulfil their potential.” Mandela himself said: “No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated.” The Department brought along Universities and TVET Colleges, SETAs, other government organs and industry representatives to exhibit and impart information to youth. Focus was on career advice and post-school education and training opportunities, learnership and internship opportunities. Ministry Spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana said the Department was extremely exhilarated about the successful hosting of the Mandela week career festival by uMfolozi TVET College and University of Zululand respectively. “The dedication of all teams and the positive attitude of ensuring that learners and unemployed youth does indeed benefit from empowering knowledge that was imparted to them by various industry players, institutions of higher learning, career development service unit of the department and SETAs,” said Nkwanyana. He also said that from 15_18 July 2015, the event succeed in total, to reach more than 9500 learners and unemployed youth. “We think we have made an impact in the uThungulu District. Changing the life of a single person in our country cannot go unnoticed. We hope that the partnership displayed between uMfolozi TVET College and University of Zululand in this regard will be explored further,” said Nkwanyana.