To ensure South Africa has the skills required for advanced manufacturing, industry needs to invest in high-end skills, National Tooling Initiative Programme (NTIP) CEO Dirk van Dyk said on Tuesday.
Addressing delegates at the release of the Manufacturing Circle Investment Tracker (MCIT) for the first quarter, he stated that individual companies needed to work together in this respect, rather than competing with one another.
“South Africa has a large pool of young people who can be properly skilled to meet the needs arising from the fourth industrial revolution,” he noted.
To achieve this, he said the NTIP recently launched the Future Production Technologies Initiative, which is the formal expansion of the NTIP.
“The NTIP is an industry–government partnership that was designed to find a way for public and private sector collaboration in the manufacturing space. It was focused on the skills supply chain [for] modern manufacturing and to develop enterprises to accommodate skilled people, and make enterprises become more competitive and export-oriented,” he said.
Van Dyk highlighted that, as a result of successfully achieving those objectives, industry, through the Manufacturing Circle and various manufacturing associations, wanted to expand the programme.
He pointed out that government has agreed to fund the programme further, through policy frameworks in the Department of Trade and Industry, together with industry, to make increased investments into manufacturing’s future.
He stressed that the programme was not sector specific, and that it was focused on production technologies of the future that would be involved in manufacturing across the board.
“We will also integrate the existing skills supply system, including technical and vocational education and training colleges and technological universities. We want to keep them intertwined as a component of a futuristic solution,” Van Dyk said.
He highlighted that if the programme was able to produce young people with proper manufacturing competencies, they would be employable instantly.
He said there had been a 20-year lag of not producing employable young people, adding that many people have qualifications but cannot find jobs.
He further stated that there were many jobs that were unfilled owing to the skills gap, which is what the NTIP was trying to close.
“We still need good skills in South Africa and companies that have invested in this area have an in-built competitive advantage. Proper career guidance orientation is key,” he said.