Gauteng Business News

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TRAINING: Not Enough Trained Artisans


Recent Gauteng Business News

Government's ambition to grow SA's manufacturing base risks being a total failure unless the country addresses a worsening skills crisis, including the shortage of trained artisans.

This is according to Sean Jones, a director of black-owned Ikaya Fundisa Techniskills Academy (IFT Academy), one of the country's leading independent training centres for artisans.

Jones said that for many years there has been a shortage of skills at the top end of the market - engineers, chartered accountants and IT specialists.

But this has been shifting. To a large extent without people realizing it. The skills crisis has taken a new turn: there is a serious depletion in industry of artisans, the skilled workers essential to every aspect of manufacturing and engineering production.

Jones said that while the shortage of top-level skills is due to SA lagging behind in innovation and technology, as well as the mobility of professionals around the world, the artisan shortage is due simply to the collapse of training.

While IFT Academy's training numbers are climbing, and for the first quarter of this year are at least 20% up on last year's first quarter, in general companies are holding back on training. This is, at the moment, is due to the worldwide recession which we are still recovering from but company spend on training has never really been sufficient to ensure that we have enough artisans in the industries that need them.

"It must be remembered, that when it comes to manufacturing, for instance, the backbone has to be artisans. In developed economies, all workers on the shop floor are artisans. In fact, even the smallest company, said Jones, needs someone with artisan skills.

Jones believes that there is a shortfall of tens of thousands of artisans across all the industry sectors, saying this is going to seriously hamper economic development in the country.

IFT Academy is focused on training artisans in a wide range of engineering-focused skills, including fitters and turners, tool jig and dye makers, electricians, millwrights, welders, boilermakers, sheet metal workers, petrol and diesel mechanics, tractor mechanics, forklift mechanics, auto electricians and earth moving equipment mechanics.

The company, a BEE level 3 contributor and a Category A beneficiary, is regarded as one of only a handful of privately owned training institutions focusing on training artisans including previously disadvantaged individuals in the entire engineering training spectrum.


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