Research from union Solidarity shows that South Africa is severely lacking in artisan skills, which has forced the country to “import” thousands of technical skills that are simply not available locally.
Deputy Minister of Higher Education Mduduzi Manana this week advised school children to obtain artisan qualifications instead of “useless” degrees from universities, saying that the government was forced to import 1,000 artisans from Thailand due to a shortage of skilled workers locally.
South Africa has a well-documented skills shortage – particularly in maths and science. While these skills are highly sought after in fields such as engineering and IT, there is also a growing lack of technical skills in the country, such as electricians, welders, mechanics and other manufacturing fields.
South Africa’s unemployment rate has remained stubbornly high at over 25% of the population – and looking at youth unemployment, the situation is even worse, with over 52% of the country’s youth unable to find work.
According to Human Resource industry reports, however, there are approximately half a million jobs in South Africa that simply cannot be filled due to a lack of necessary skills.
Solidarity-affiliated technikon, Sol-Tech said that one of the reasons why there is a shortage of artisans, or suitable candidates for vocational training, is the fact that learners choose the wrong subjects.
Sol-Tech MD Paul van Deventer said that learners need to take the appropriate subjects, including maths and science, to improve their chances of admission to a vocational course.
According to Van Deventer, 95% of students who graduate from Sol-Tech’s vocational training are successfully employed – a fifth of which are self-employed.
This highlights the huge demand for these skills.
“We are training young people in those scarce fields precisely because we know that upon completion of their training they will find good jobs and we know that vocational training thus offers them a future in South Africa,” he said.