Johannesburg - Skills development is vital in the fight against
poverty and unemployment in South Africa, Higher Education and Training
Minister Blade Nzimande said on Wednesday.
"Skills development is central in the objectives and
goals South Africa wants to achieve as a country to fight poverty,
inequality and unemployment," Nzimande said at the national artisan
development conference in Midrand.
"As a country we are short of many skills and we need
to turn our education system (around) to be able to respond better to
the many skills that we need, and shift the bias away from focusing on
Nzimande said it was important for colleges to train artisans.
"We are short of those skills in the country and we
need to say to our youngsters that going to a college is not because you
are dumb, or that it is second choice to university.
"There is a shortage of those skills and those are
skills that are needed. Some people tend to look down upon them, but
they are no less important than doctors."
Learnerships and internships were fundamental for the vital first working experience.
"That is a priority issue for our country which also
requires a closer working relationship between the labour movement, the
employers and the colleges."
Nzimande said every workplace was a training space.
"Unless and until employers open their workplaces for
our youngsters to acquire the necessary experiences, we are not going to
crack the problem of skills shortages in our country."
He said learnership programmes had been a success in other countries.
"You can appoint the best coach you want, but unless we
have got a development programme from a young age, Bafana Bafana will
continue to break our hearts," he quipped.
"Apprenticeships for youngsters are very important. You
can't learn to trap a ball when you are 25, you learn to trap a ball at
the age of 10, 11 or 12, like the Spanish."
Nzimande said the development of qualified artisans to support the economy was a government priority.
He said many strategic infrastructure projects in the country required a significant number of qualified and competent artisans.
These projects and the economic activity they
stimulated would require a qualified workforce in various sectors,
including manufacturing, construction, operations and maintenance.
"Unless we accelerate the training of artisans, their
numbers will fall short of the demands of the industry, and therefore
adversely affect both production and job creation," Nzimande told the
"The impact will be felt in inadequate and continued
skewed economic growth in our country, and government's reduced ability
to provide basic and other services to our people."