Western Cape government takes on the challenge of tackling the skills shortages in the region with the launch of an artisan development programme in the province. The objective of the programme is to up skill and train local workers and provide employment opportunities for young individuals.
The programme is a collaboration between the private sector, communities, Skills Education Training Authorities (SETAs) and Further Education and Training (FET) colleges. R5.8-million has been set aside to promote and train artisans in the region.
Minister Alan Winde, the Western Cape Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Minister, commented that the scarcity and lack of artisans in the region could have a devastating effect and impact on the local economy moving forward given the critical importance of these type of skills when it comes to service delivery especially within the engineering sector.
The goal and objective of the programme is to educate and train individuals with the necessary skills and in turn create and ongoing supply of qualified and skilled artisan who in turn can obtain employment and play an important role in advancing and growing of emerging sectors such as oil and gas industry.
The initial stage of the program will provide the necessary funding and support for 200 young individuals to complete their training and prepare them to take the National Trade Test exams. The programme will also focus on training teachers and coaches within the 72 companies who have opted to join the programme and assist them to train the young candidates whilst they are interning in these companies.
The programme is also aligned and works in parallel with the government’s National Development Plan which recognizes the importance of artisanship which can provide “shock absorbers for extreme poverty and platforms for self-employment” within developing economies and countries.
According to recent statements and comments from the National Development Plan, South Africa will need to produce at least 30000 artisan annually and the Western Cape government want to play its part in helping the National Development Plan achieve its national objectives and goals.
Public Works Deputy Minister, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu has assured young people who happen to be on her department’s Artisan Development programme work opportunities upon concluding their training.
Bogopane-Zulu made her commitment at the graduation of the initial group of young people who successfully completed the theoretical training of her department’s Artisan Development Programme.
“I wish to make a commitment that every one of you would walk into jobs that fit your training and skills after successfully finishing the programme. I can’t train you and not place you. Even if I would no longer be in my current position, I will not forget about this commitment and I will be there,” she said.
She additionally appealed to the graduates to stay the course until such time as they finish their 82 weeks of training.
“As our very first group of this programme, you need to realise that we are proud of you and we want you to remain on this training until you complete your remaining 82 weeks.
“You should consider yourselves fortunate, many of us studied in dark and poor conditions and if I were you, I was not going to mess up this training opportunity directly linked to workplace skills,” said Bogopane-Zulu who is visually impaired.
The Artisan Development Programme will certainly make it possible for students to leave with full artisan qualifications along with advanced practical skills.
The training programme is financed by the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) National Youth Service (NYS) while NECSA has been designated as a service provider to train the students.
Deputy Director-General of the EPWP, Stanley Henderson said when the programme started in January there were 100 learners, but two dropped out.
He further mentioned that 38 of the learners that happen to be obtaining training in boiler making, fitting and turning, mechanical, electrical and welding are young women.
Henderson pointed out that more youth from other provinces will also be recruited in future intake following the analysis of this first training programme.
Talking on behalf of the graduates, Pulane Kealeboga Jack, 27, from the Northern Cape said: “All of us wish to convey our gratitude in thanking the department for providing us with this opportunity.
“We all had our ups and downs during the past eight months we have been here, however , today we are proud to say we are apprentices and it is time to plough back what we have learned in our different trades. I came here without having any basic skills in welding, but a lot of people can be surprise to see what I can do.”
Another learner, Elroy Edmond said he finds boiler making interesting. “Before I came here, I knew absolutely nothing about boiler making and today I am enjoying the training.
“I will never disappoint by dropping out because I see no reason to start something and never finish,” he explained.
The Artisan Development Programme is geared towards positively contributing to addressing the challenges resulting from the high level of unemployment in South Africa.
The vast majority of among the youth thereby offering them with a chance to earn an income whilst attaining technical skills that will boost their prospects of employment, entrepreneurship and overall development.
The skills development programme includes accommodation and meals for 98 learners. The National Skills Fund will take care of all training related costs including training provider costs, assessment, moderation and certification. Various other costs to be covered by the department include; logistical costs for learners screening and selection sessions. Top up stipends (R660 pp/ pm for theoretical component) and learners allowance (R1200 pp/pm for the practical component) as well as transport costs during assessments.
For more information, contact Public Works – click here
Skills development and education have been given a tremendous boost following the signing of two accords intended to, among others, see 30 000 new artisans receive training.
“The accords are going to concentrate on real challenges,” Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel proclaimed at the signing of the National Skills Accord and the Basic Education Accord.
The accords are a collaboration by business, government, labour together with the community. This comes after engagements following on from the launch of the New Growth Path, intended to generate five million job opportunities over the next 10 years. Skills and education happen to be crucial elements in the growth path.
“Dealing with education and skills development is among the core components of the New Growth Path,” said Patel.
The skills accord consists of eight essential responsibilities which are designed to drive training and development. It is expected that approximately 30 000 new artisan students are estimated to enter training this year. Thirty-one percent of this figure will come from the government sector, 13 percent are going to be state owned enterprises and 56 percent will be the private sector.
It will in addition create opportunities for training in a work environment for no less than 16 000 lecturers at FET colleges, which are going to be phased in.
Business and labour already have fully committed to making certain that the funding of training is accessible via the skills development levy. Business at the same time undertook to increase spending on training over and above the one percent compulsory training levy. The accord states that business will encourage companies to spend somewhere between three and five percent of their total salary bill voluntarily on training.
The National Skills Fund (NSF) is going to be utilized effectively to support skills that address the focal points of the growth path.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande explained that all partners involved in the accords are going to be subject to annual binding targets. Currently the department is in the process of completing their budget as to how to spend the fund’s money in consultation with the relevant ministers.
“There is in excess of R4 billion of unspent funds from the past together with R2 billion from this year.”
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga pointed out that the government is inspired by the accord especially for underperforming schools.
“It arrived at the correct time. The accord will be helpful to redirect resources,” said Motshekga of the accord, which saw all parties committing to adopting poorly performing schools.
Organised labour, business along with community organizations fully committed to a target of between 100 and 200 schools to be supported in the adopt-a-school initiative.
Representing organised labour [Cosatu, National Teachers Union (Naptu), Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA)], Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi declared that labour has for many years contended that something needs to be undertaken to transform the lives of workers by way of skills development and education — not just for children , but for workers as well.
“All of us are making a commitment to play our part. All accords will demand active involvement,” he was quoted saying, adding the fact that the key to the success of the accords is not just the signing itself but instead the involvement of all involved to enable it to be a success.
The secretary general added that unions will continue to work to alter the mindset “of all public servants, which includes educators to recognize that our future lies in their hands.”
Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) president Futhi Mthoba suggested the accords represent agreements relating to elements of concern with respect to the growth path. “The significant portion of the accords is that each individual partner is accountable for deliverables. We are going to hold one another responsible,” she explained.
Patel in addition talked about the vital challenge for creating significantly more jobs is to deal with skills shortages and issues, and what we have put together here in these two accords can be described as a partnership right across the training pipeline, starting out at primary school all the way through to FET colleges and beyond. We now have brought here the people with resources.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has highlighted a number of government initiatives to boost the number and quality of university and college graduates and artisans in South Africa.
Briefing journalists in Cape Town on Tuesday, Nzimande said a shortage of skills remained one of the country’s biggest hurdles to economic growth and job creation.
The government’s new economic growth path, launched last week, highlights the shortage of skilled artisans, workers and professionals as a key constraint to reducing South Africa’s unemployment rate from 25 percent to 15 percent by 2020.
Nzimande said key initiatives of his department to tackle skills included:
* A review to improve the country’s Further Education and Training (FET) colleges.
* A career guidance programme for students.
* A standards body to improve the quality of artisans.
* Improved funding for disadvantaged students.
* A new strategy for teacher training and development.
Flanked by the department’s newly appointed deputy minister, Hlengiwe Mkhize, Nzimande told journalists that he had signed off the new teacher training and development strategy, which was crafted from resolutions made at a teacher training summit in 2009.
The strategy was now available for public comment, he said, adding that increasing the quality and number of teachers was a key focus area for President Jacob Zuma.
Turning to South Africa’s Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, Nzimande said these had to become into colleges of choice rather than “dumping grounds” for those that could not make it into technical universities or universities.
Nzimande said a key obstacle was that a FET college qualification did not guarantee entrance into a university.
The department would also work very closely with Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to arrest and close down unregistered, fly-by-night colleges.
“We are going to be intensifying this, because fly-by-nights are exploiting the desperate needs of the majority of our people for access to education and training, and then giving them courses that are of such low quality.”
He said the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) had set up a helpline to advise students on career guidance. The department was also in discussions with the SABC on the possibility of setting aside certain time slots on their radio stations to offer career guidance sessions.
He said he had also asked the SAQA to work more effectively with schools to publicise the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and to look at ways to assist with career guidance.
The department was reviewing the scheme, which Nzimande said would inevitably involve some recapitalisation and better ways to fund disabled students.
He said one of the reasons for the high drop-out rates was that the scheme often did not cover enough students or all the needs of students. An announcement on the review would be made later this month, he said.
Nzimande said his department was also looking at setting up a central application system, to which all students could apply, to gain entrance to any university or college.
He believed that such a system, coupled with career guidance centres, would help to see more university and college students complete their studies.
To address the quality of artisans, the Department of Higher Education would set up the National Artisan Moderating Body.
The problem was particularly pressing, as the average age of an artisan was now 50 years old, and in little over a decade most will have retired, he said.
Student community service
Commenting on the proposal to have students complete community service before graduating, Nzimande said he expected the bulk of this review to be carried out next year.
He said that, following the resolution of the ANC’s national general council to look into the proposal, the department would study the community service in place for doctors, as well as best case practices from across the world.
“We are of the view as a department that this is very very important,” said Nzimande, who pointed out that such a system could address two kinds of problems.
While it could help to provide work experience for the some 50 000 unemployed graduates, it could also address the shortage of skills, particularly at rural municipalities, he said.
Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan said on Thursday that artisan training, especially by state owned entities, could contribute positively towards the creation of jobs, needed to grow the South African economy.
Speaking at the launch of the SA 1st campaign – which sets out to encourage a mindset that will drive the revitalisation of the work ethic and productive values and behaviours that build the economy- the minister said government’s biggest entities, Eskom and Transnet, were facilitating artisan training that will help in creating real jobs in the economy.
The minister believes that the fact that South Africa had a shortage of artisans was lamentable, given the country’s high unemployment rate.
“I think artisan training is probably one of the most important areas where youth can be engaged not just in public works programmes but in getting the skills they require to be able to sustain themselves,” said Minister Hogan.
She said that from 1976 to 1994 public investment decreased from 16 to five percent of Gross Domestic Product, remaining as is until 2004.
She said the utilities played an important, strategic role and that in the last nine months the department has gone over 47 trajectories due to the huge backlog resulting from the apartheid government adding that government was unapologetically committed to infrastructural development.
“Government has to invest in the future of the county,” she said.
She said under-investment in infrastructure has had an impact on the manufacturing industry and that the department is faced with funding the build programme and revitalizing the supplier industry. “By aligning skills with national economic objectives, these projects will alleviate poverty and create jobs, real jobs,” she said.
“We’re not appreciating enough that what we require in this country is not only lawyers, accountants – people who are graduates. We require people that can grow this economy in very tangible ways,” she said.