Industry body the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) has called on businesses in the metals and engineering (M&E) sector and the wider manufacturing industry to ramp up training efforts.
It suggests that this can be done by deepening partnerships with government and funding entities, such as the sector education and training authorities and will help to train artisans, technicians and engineers to meet the National Development Plan’s target of training 30 000 artisans a year by 2030.
“More needs to be done to address this skills shortage and promote engineering and technical vocational training as a career option, especially among female students,” says Seifsa human capital and skills development executive Sumaya Hoosen.
The Critical Skills List recently released by the Department of Home Affairs includes metal machinists, industrial machinery mechanics, electrical equipment mechanics, lift mechanics, fitters and turners and manufacturing quality controllers, industrial engineers and technologists, civil and mechanical engineers; all of which are artisanal trades and engineering qualifications in short supply in South Africa.
The list is indicative of South Africa’s failure to close the gaps in artisan and engineering training in the country, Hoosen notes.
Further, the shortage of artisans, technicians and engineers has been well documented, with the government saying as recently as 2017 that the country had a shortfall of 40 000 artisans, despite government efforts to promote artisanal careers among school leavers through its Decade of the Artisan campaign.
“Developing artisans, alongside entrepreneurial and small and medium-sized business development, will help to address township and rural development challenges and stimulate job creation. South Africa produces about 12 000 artisans a year, but this figure could be higher if more businesses in the M&E sector join government efforts.”
Hoosen encourages companies to join efforts to produce quality artisans, technicians and engineers by focusing funding for training on these programmes that also provide benefit on the skills development element of their empowerment scorecard.
“We have been engaging with Seifsa-affiliated companies to take on apprentices, particularly those from historically disadvantaged backgrounds. We have also been encouraging our affiliated companies to optimise the efforts in providing bursaries to eligible students who wish to study engineering, with emphasis on the scare skills highlighted,” she says.
“Seifsa believes partnerships can overcome the obstacles facing the economy. In the context of training and development, we need to work together to create a pipeline of skilled artisans, technicians and engineers,” Hoosen adds.
Seifsa offers accredited training and a trade test centre and offers apprenticeships in 10 trades through its Seifsa Training Centre, she points out.
The programmes provided by the Seifsa Training Centre through its network of centres of specialisation are able to address future-of-work challenges by developing skills in green and Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies and it has incorporated e-learning in a blended approach for its theoretical training delivery, concludes Hoosen.