Re-industrialisation has been named one of the key approaches to improving South Africa’s economic growth potential. Re-industrialisation, however, will in turn demand technical skills such as those offered by artisans, which South Africa is not prepared for.
Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba argues that South Africa is ill-equipped for re-industrialisation, as the country does not produce a sufficient number of artisan skills on a yearly basis when compared with the skills produced by universities, universities of technology and colleges. A key reason for this, according to Nyatsmba, is that South African society in general place greater emphasis on completing university degrees as imperative to getting a job, whilst ignoring the importance of skill-building courses offered at technical and vocational education and training. Statistically, skills taught at TVET colleges are highly in demand in South Africa, but because of this impression of inferiority placed on such colleges, the country is under producing skilled artisans. He thus argues that “we need to start seeing TVET colleges as significant contributors of skills required by the economy.”
“Generally, as South Africans,” Nyatsumba states, “we tend to place too great an emphasis on sending children to universities to improve their chances of getting employed, notwithstanding the fact that every year thousands of university graduates struggle to find employment. We need to start taking TVET colleges more seriously.”
To respond to this challenge, Seifsa in 2015 created the Seifsa Awards for Excellence to celebrate companies that have embarked on the continuous journey of developing a pool of artisans in South Africa. There are 7 award categories: ‘Decade of the Artisan Award’ to a company that trained the highest number of artisans; Environment Stewardship of the Year Award; the Most Innovative Company of the Year; the Most Transformed Company of the Year Award; he Best Corporate Social Investment Award; the Customer Service Award; and the Health and Safety Award of the Year.
Nyatsumba encouraged manufacturers operating in the metals and engineering sector to submit their entries for the seven categories before Friday, April 20. Winners will be announced at a ceremony that will take place at the Industrial Development Corporation Conference Centre, in Sandton, on May 24.
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