The National Assembly approved the Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges Amendment Bill on Tuesday.
Introducing the debate, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said the bill would strengthen and make the FET sector the centre of skills development in South Africa.
"Especially to absorb the millions of our youth that are out of school or have completed a certain number of minimum years at school."
The legislation followed the decision in 2009 to split the education ministry into two separate ministries. This necessitated moving the adult education and training and FET college functions from provincial education departments to the national department, Nzimande said.
The bill was also intended "provide stability and enhance retention of staff" in FET colleges.
The sector had so far not been able to effectively retain its skilled workforce, as jobs in FET colleges were seen as not secure.
"The exodus of experienced and qualified staff from the sector, mainly as a result in the change in their conditions of employment, made it difficult to achieve the important goal of building a skilled workforce in the country."
The bill now provided the opportunity for the majority of FET college sector staff to be state employees, Nzimande said.
The measure was opposed by the Congress of the People, the Freedom Front Plus, and Democratic Alliance, who said it infringed on provincial powers and competencies.