The Construction Education and Training Authority (Ceta) on Wednesday presented a draft version of its five-year small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) strategy, which has followed an extensive stakeholder engagement process and aims to support SMMEs past the training stage and into the entrepreneurial stage.
“Skills development is not just about training people for employment, it must also empower people to create opportunities to make a living for themselves and perhaps opportunities for others to do so as well,” commented Motheo Construction CEO Dr Thandi Ndlovu.
She said the construction industry has trained a lot of people, who are now sitting at home, frustrated, and yet the industry trains still more cohorts of people, with no access to opportunities.
Further, construction activity has been on the decline for the past eight years, Ndlovu pointed out. “The companies we used to call the big seven have subsequently declined to the big five, and are now struggling with procurement of opportunities.
“This decline is good for business for small enterprises. It introduces new ways of thinking and new ways of entering the [construction] space. The building has not fallen, but there are new tenants moving in,” she said.
Ndlovu added that the industry must think beyond training, to entrepreneurship. She motivated that partnerships can provide access to opportunities.
“Private sector entities can assist people coming out of training mode and into business mode.”
Ceta acting CEO Robert Semenya presented the authority’s draft five-year strategy, which was being extended and modified with feedback provided during the summit.
He said the strategy is aligned with key fundamentals prevalent in the sector at the moment, namely transformation, for example, women-empowerment and empowering people with disabilities.
Additionally, he said the industry has seen many learnerships and artisanal programmes, but it has not seen a lot of skills development that focuses on enterprise development.
One of the objectives of Ceta’s SMME strategy includes restoring the dignity of people. For example, people are seen outside of building stores, advertising their skills on boards, such as “painter”, “plumber” or “tiler”. “We now collect information from those people to determine their age, origin and level of education and we will develop a programme to assist them with opportunities in the sector. We want to ensure that those people are formalised and accessible to the industry.”
Semenya explained that the strategy follows an overhead three-pronged approach, focused on grass-roots level SMMEs, SMMEs already in the business and those that need support for the business to remain sustainable.
He said Ceta will also develop programmes to assist older SMME professionals, who tend to have more expertise, but also lack access to opportunities.
Semenya concluded that this year’s Ceta SMME Summit outlined the strategy, and once it was finalised, the summit would give feedback and evaluate the performance of the strategy going forward.