TVET Colleges has a significant challenge of high student dropout rates in South Africa and other countries for years. The dropout rate in TVET Colleges is estimated between 13% and 25% per annum, the highest levels being in level 2 of the NQF Green Paper, (2012). These figures are a caution to all stakeholders, Higher education institutions around the world have been concerned about the student dropout phenomenon Habley, Bloom & Robbins, (2012); Seidman, 2005b; Tinto, (1993). TVET Colleges are, however, expected to play a significant role in addressing the acute shortage of skills Branson, Hofmeyr & Lan, (2013). The challenge is that the TVET College sector is currently incompetent regarding throughput and retention rates. Chweu and Schultz (2010) proclaim that the student throughput rate has become a great concern for higher education institutions and academic departments are challenged to handle this issue. (Berger, Ramirez & Lyon, 2012), stated that every student lost is a loss for the institution too. Student dropout or low student retention rates in any educational institution indicate a problem that needs to be solved. The students who withdraw from College prematurely end up not obtaining any certificate of graduation Ajaja, (2012). The major social costs of dropping out of college increased demand for social services, increased crime rates and poor levels of health Azam, (2007). Individual costs include lower earnings, unemployment prospects, greater likelihood of health problems Thurton, (2006). It is clear from the foregoing, that by dropping out of school, most students severely limit their chances of economic and social well-being in the future.
One of the long-term goals of any college and around the world is increasing the student retention. To retain students is extremely important as numbers of enrolment continue to rise. This study is mainly focusing on the challenges that contribute to student dropout and explain the reasons why students withdraw from their chosen programme of study. This study seeks to introduce a strategy to retain NCV (National Certificate Vocational) students at TVET College. Hagedorn (2006) defines student retention as keeping students in higher education classes until finish or receive their college certificates. According to Seidman (2005), dropout refers to any person leaving a school, university or college before graduation. In this study, dropout refers to all students who leave without completing their studies at a TVET College. The ever increasing challenge of student dropout at TVET Colleges remains spaces of concern among in higher education and this challenges persist year in and year out. Field, Musset and Alvazarez-Galvan (2014), states that dropping out is a pervasive challenge in South Africa and a significant reason why so many young South Africans end up uneducated and unemployed.