SA running short of Artisan Skills
In the next few years, South Africa is going to be running out of skilled bricklayers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, plasterers and even painters.
This means that soon our limited building industry skills base will disappear,” says John Matthews, Chairman of the Master Builders Association Educational Trust and Vice President of the Master Builders Association of the Western Cape (MBAWC). “I think that we underestimate the magnitude of the problem, not just in the Western Cape but within the country as a whole.”
South Africa has experienced a shortage of about 46 000 artisans in the past three year, according to figures given by the Higher Education Department in Johannesburg at a Gala Dinner to launch the first ever National Artisan Development Conference held last year.
To rectify the situation and promote the skilled artisan aspect of the construction industry as a viable career path, the MBAWC has developed a DVD presentation that will be shown at schools around the Western Cape. According to Stephen Price, Headmaster of Bergvliet High School, “Children need to know what career opportunities are out there. Without more school leavers entering this sector, it is going to cause a problem. We don’t want to have a lack of these skills in our country as they are vital to our economy.”
Rob Johnson, Executive Director of the MBAWC states, “With this presentation we hope to communicate to youngsters that they don’t necessarily have to go university in order to enter the employment market – there are other options. The MBAWC offers an apprenticeship programme, at no cost to the learner, which equips learners with the valuable skills they will need to succeed together with an internationally recognised trade certificate – at the same time enabling them to earn while they learn.”
He continues, “Some 50% of all the training done for the building industry nationwide takes place in the Western Cape and we have a proud tradition of producing skilled people who have worked on major projects all over Southern Africa. In fact, many of the successful businessmen and women in the construction arena started in the hard skills sector and worked their way up. Furthermore, certain trades such as plumbing, carpentry and joinery, tiling and roofing lend themselves to artisans becoming entrepreneurs.”
“We want school leavers to realise that the opportunities in the industry are endless and that one can get to the top without having to be an academic,” concludes Johnson.
Business has been criticised by the Minister of Higher Education for not participating in skills development and has requested that they partner with government in producing a skilled workforce.