Trades that pave way to prosperity

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

By Phumla Williams, Acting DG of the GCIS

Every new house that is built or water, electricity or sewerage line connected in your area is a future job opportunity for a buddying young artisan. As our residential and industrial areas expand there is a greater demand for the technical skills of artisans to service their needs.

These are plumbers, electricians, pipe fitters, welders, bricklayers and carpenters to name but a few which are under-represented in the market.  

It is important for young people, when choosing a career, to consider what scarce skills are required by the job market so they always have work opportunities available to them.

Moreover, the demand for these skills debunk the notion that a university qualification is a prerequisite for a good job. A university degree that is not aligned to the skills demanded in the market is in itself a disadvantage.  

Our experience has shown that the skills shortages we are experiencing in our country are partly linked to a mismatch between education and the skills that business need.

In this Youth Month let us ensure that we help young people make good decisions in their career choices. It is our responsibility as free South Africans to ensure we contribute to the fight against unemployment and poverty by arming our young people with the right kind of information.

To choose a relevant career, young people must know at an early stage which path they want to embark on and must receive proper career guidance from their parents and teachers.

Youth in high school who see themselves as future artisans must choose as early as Grade 9 when they are required to make subject choices. The requirement to become an artisan is a minimum of 40% in mathematics (excluding mathematical literacy) at Grade 9 level or the completion of a National Vocational Certificate Level 2.

In the case of civil, mechanical and electrical categories of trades a minimum of 40% in the relevant N2 trade theory or the relevant vocational subjects of the National Vocational Certificate Level 2 are required.

These National Vocational Certificate studies are available to young people at their local Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. There are 50 public TVET Colleges which operate on more than 264 campuses spread across the country.

Importantly, these colleges also help students transition from a National Vocational Certificate to a workplace internship to give them a combination of workplace practical experience together with learning theory.  

An alternate route to become a certified artisan involves the Recognition of Prior Learning were a young person can gain several years of experience and then write the trade test.

This route is much longer and involves compiling a dossier of evidence attesting to your work experience. The Recognition of Prior Learning route will measure and test your skills against the learning outcomes required for a specified qualification.  Once qualified, you could work for a much higher salary.

A career as an artisan opens an array of possibilities: to either join a company, work for yourself or becoming an entrepreneur who employs other budding young interested in applying their technical skills. Whatever you decide, at the end of the day, gaining a technical skill ensures that you are marketable to the workplace and there is a job opportunity awaiting you.

*Article first appeared in Pretoria News.