TRAINING: The Road To Artisanship
Recent Western Cape Business News
THE burning issue of artisan training, for too long neglected in this country, has now become one of government’s top priorities, and measures to significantly increase the flow of new artisans to industry are on the verge of being implemented.
Government’s New Growth Path Policy has set a target of 50 000 new artisans by 2015, with a target of 25 000 artisans by 2012. “Artisan training is regarded as a critical matter,” says Charles Goodwin, campus head of the Westlake Campus of the high-performing False Bay College. “Without sufficient artisans, this country’s prospects of meaningful growth are severely limited - it is as serious as that.”
There are three main routes by which applicants can become artisans. The first is the NC(V) (National Certificate Vocational) programme, levels 2,3 and 4, suitable for learners in Grades 9 and above. The programme is quite academic, and perhaps harder to pass, with some 80% of learners’ time being taken up with 7 subjects, ranging from English, Life Orientation, Computer Training and Maths and four trade subjects, varying according to the candidate’s chosen career path. Students can apply for a trade test with the relevant Seta after 18 months of on the job training.
False Bay College has been highly successful with this programme. The college has a job placement record of well over 90%, of which it is understandably proud. The state pays 80% of the cost, with the student responsible for the balance 20%. Bursaries are available to students who qualify, which means some students might well be able to complete the entire course without charge.
The National Certificate course, for Grade 12 with maths, is intended for students with a specific field in mind, is accredited and unit standard based. Maths and communications are fundamental subjects, but the emphasis is on the practical side, with study almost equally divided between theory, practice and work-based experiential training. Subjects include electrical engineering, ARM (motor mechanics), mechanical engineering, welding application and practice, engineering fabrication, automotive body repair, automotive spray painting, building and civil construction and a course that is unique in this country, yacht and boat building. There are two intakes annually, in January and July. Companies can apply for Seta funding through discretionary grants to train suitable employees.
The NC Electrical Engineering course is already funded by the National Skills Fund, Goodwin says, and funding for other courses is being actively pursued, with good prospects of success. Blade Nzimande, the minister of higher education, is driving artisan training through public FET colleges with the New Skills Development Strategy (NSDS111).
The third type of training offered is Competency Based Modular Training (CBMT), intended mainly for students who are pursuing a traditional apprenticeship route. Students can apply for a Trade Test after completing 18 months of work based training in a company with a log book, and having met the minimum criteria required by the Seta for the Trade Test. Subjects include electrical, fitting and turning, welding, fabrication, ABR (panel and spray), joinery and plumbing.
Neels Broodryk, Westlake’s deputy campus head (Occupational), who also spoke to CBN, emphasised that the college regularly carries out evaluations, gap training (pre-trade test refreshers) and both trade testing and level testing.
With strong impetus from the minister, he and Charles Goodwin are confident that False Bay College is well placed to meet the training needs of industry and individual companies.
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