The call came during an engagement with learners from surrounding schools in Nelson Mandela Municipality, where Higher Education and Training Deputy Minister Mduduzi Manana visited learners as part of promoting the Decade of the Artisan Advocacy Campaign.
The learner engagements aimed to motivate learners to consider artisanship as a career of choice in the 21st century, as well as share information on critical scarce skills that will advance the economy of the country.
Speaking to over 1 200 learners on Tuesday, Deputy Minister Manana said the country cannot afford to import thousands of skills, while the country’s youth are unemployed.
“We are sitting with a challenge of unemployable youth due to a lack of relevant skills. This is the time for young people to turn things around by making the right choices that will advance their families, communities and the country at large.
“Out of 100 careers in high demand released by the Minister in 2014, 47 careers are artisan related. Thus, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and employers become central in the development of artisans,” said Deputy Minister Manana.
The Deputy Minister also led learners to a try-a- skill exhibition, where they were exposed to exhibitors that demonstrated what an artisan does in a real life experience.
“We trust by exposing them to such an exhibition, it will unleash an interest that could never be there if it were not for this advocacy campaign.”
Principal of Port Elizabeth College, Khaya Mathiso, encouraged learners to take full advantage of opportunities availed by government.
“Most of you are coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is available for you for free if you study at TVET colleges. The only thing you need to is show up and be counted, by applying to the college and NSFAS timeously,” Mathiso told learners.
Deputy Minister meets with artisan employers
Prior to the engagement with learners, the Deputy Minister met with artisan employers from automotive, hospitality and chemical industries to garner for effective partnerships between employers and TVET colleges.
Engaging with the employers, Deputy Minister emphasised that there is a continuous need for suitably qualified artisans to sustain industries and support economic growth of the country.
He noted that in a range of national strategies, the need for artisans has been elevated and identified as a priority area for skills development.
“The private sector is the biggest employer of artisans in the country, hence the Decade of the Artisan Campaign that I am championing on behalf of the government has employers as an integral stakeholder as well as TVET colleges as the training partner. We need employers closer to the colleges as partners, where there are challenges let us work together,” the Deputy Minister said.
While the National Development Plan indicates that by 2030 the country should be producing 30 000 qualified artisans per year, this target has been brought forward by the 2014 – 2020 Medium Term Strategic Framework to 31 March 2026.
At present the country is producing on average of 13 000 qualified artisans per year and the number has to more than double in the next 11 years, leading up to 2026 and reach 30 000 by 2030.