Original Research

The relevance of Kaizen-based work-readiness training for South African University of Technology students

Fundiswa R. Nofemela, Christine Winberg
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 16, No 1 | a729 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v16i1.729 | © 2020 Fundiswa R. Nofemela, Christine Winberg | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 September 2019 | Published: 13 May 2020

About the author(s)

Fundiswa R. Nofemela, Co-operative Education, Mangosuthu University of Technology, Durban, South Africa
Christine Winberg, Professional Education Research Institute, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa


Kaizen-based work-readiness training originated in Japan and is based on the ‘lean’ production methods taught in Toyota factories in Japan and abroad. Kaizen-based training is rooted in the Kaizen principles of respect for others, the elimination of waste, continuous improvement, collaboration as the key to productivity and innovation as incremental in work processes. The Employability Improvement Programme (EIP), an initiative between the South African Department of Higher Education and Training, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and South African Universities of Technology, is a Kaizen-based short training programme that was introduced in 2011 with the intention to enhance South African University of Technology students’ work-readiness. The research question guiding the study is: how could a short Kaizen-based intervention contribute to South African University of Technology students’ work-readiness? The data for the study comprise curriculum documents, teaching and learning media, video footage and interviews with participants of the Kaizen events over the period 2016–2018. The study found that the EIP supported students’ acquisition of interpersonal skills and personal dispositions towards work-readiness, but skills that were related to workplace relations in context, professional values and a sense of a broader contribution to society were largely absent. The study recommends that longer term, more integrated and better contextualised forms of training are necessary in attaining work-readiness in the complex South African work context.


Kaizen; lean education; work-readiness; universities of technology; vocational training.


Total abstract views: 2801
Total article views: 3363

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.