BY: Zizile Lushaba.

A functioning economy must have a sufficient number of artisans if it is to fulfil its economic potential. From energy and water to transport and logistics, all key sectors of the economy are dependent on a ready supply of artisans.

Although South Africa remains woefully short of artisan skills, this reality is no stranger to the South African government. In November 2022, the minister of higher education, science and innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, warned that South Africa needs at least 60% of school leavers to pursue training in a trade to meet the country’s demand for scarce skills.

Dr Nzimande, at the 2022 Centres of Specialisation (COS) Artisan Graduation Ceremony, stated: “We honestly need to do more to encourage school leavers to pursue technical trades, as government expands technical and vocational education. This is amongst the reasons why there is a continuous need for suitably qualified artisans to sustain industries and support economic growth in South Africa.”

Critical skills list

The Department of Home Affairs has also made a concerted effort to attract critical skills to the country by adding seven trades to the latest critical skills list which was released in August 2022. The inclusion of trades in the critical skills list highlights the shortage of these skills and affords foreign nationals with these skills an opportunity to apply for critical skills work visas.

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