South Africa Government

11/29/2022 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/29/2022 05:04

Minister Blade Nzimande: Graduation and recognition ceremony of first centre

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande address on the occasion of the graduation and recognition ceremony of the first centre of specialisation apprentices that have qualified as artisans

Programme Director DDG: Thembisa Futshane
Director-General of the Department of Higher Education and Training, Dr Nkosinathi Sishi and all other DDGs present;
My Ministry staff;
Officials from my Department and other spheres of Government;
Sector Education and Training Authority Chairpersons, Chief Executive Officers and other officials and leadership of our TVET entities;
Technical and Vocational Education and Training Principals and other officials;
Leadership from South African Public Colleges Organisation (SAPCO);
Industry Partners and Leaders, in particular Mr Charles Smillie and Mr Buhle Dhlamini;
Leadership from our Trade Unions;
Members of the Media;
Ladies and gentlemen
And lastly our Guests of Honour - Artisans that are seating here.
Good Morning

I am greatly honoured to welcome you all on the occasion of the graduation and recognition ceremony of the first centre of specialistion apprentices, particularly on the month in which we focus the country's attention on the 16 Days of Activism on no violence against women and children - which is an annual international campaign that starts on 25 November and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day.

As a sector we therefore need to ensure that we join all these activities because our sector is also affected by the gender-based violence and femicide pandemic.

Ladies and gentlemen

South Africa needs at least 60% of school leavers to pursue artisanal type training to meet the country's demand for scarce skills.

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.

In 2014, as a Department we launched the Decade of the Artisan campaign to promote artisanship as a career of choice to South Africa's youth.
The campaign was launched under the theme "Its cool to be a 21st Century Artisan".

The importance of this programme is to ensure that we produce artisans in hugely increased numbers to provide the much-needed skills in our economy.

The artisan campaign was launched in the wake of the demand to successfully implement our country's Strategic Infrastructure Projects, which included the building of roads, schools, universities, harbours, power stations and other social and economic infrastructure during the Fourth Administration.

As we know, our Government's National Development Plan (NDP) and our White Paper for Post-School Education and Training indicates that by 2030 the country should be producing 30 000 qualified artisans per year.

At present the country is producing on average 20 000 qualified artisans per year. We therefore need to ensure that the number increase drastically leading up to 2030 for the country to realise the NDP target.

Unfortunately, we noted that the total number of learners who entered artisanal learning programmes in the 2020/21 financial year was 10 302 reflecting a 36.5% (5 916) decline compared with the 2019/20 financial year.

I am informed that the reason for the decline is attributed to the introduction of the much-needed Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning (ARPL) model which affected the normal flow of learner registrations as Artisan Development Stakeholders are still getting used to it. I am hoping that going forward we will work hard to improve on our enrolments.

SETAs also struggled to register learners, and COVID-19 was sighted as a factor due to limited movements between regions which affected recruitment.

Despite all these challenges, I am happy to report that the total number of artisans issued with national trade certificates by SETAs and INDLELA during the 2020/21 financial year was 12 613.

These learners participated in the government Special Infrastructure Projects (SIPs) scarce skills programme in the 2020/21 financial years.

They include artisanal skills in automotive mechanics, electrician, plumber, diesel mechanic, boilermaker, millwright and welder.

More than one third of certificates were issued by MERSETA (37.2% or 4 651) followed by MQA (11.0% or 1 372), CETA (10.0% or 1 253) and EWSETA (9.9% or 1 232).

Over the course of the 2020/21 financial year, the National Skills Fund (NSF) supported 304 skills development projects, with the number of beneficiaries reaching 34 994.

Furthermore, NSF disbursed more than R1.6 billion on skills development interventions.

The NSF funds were mainly disbursed to TVET colleges (29.2% or R493.1 million) and Rural Development projects (29.0% or R490.5 million), while 22.6% (R381.3 million) was allocated for the bursaries and 18.6% (R313.4 million) for "other national priorities".

The NSF is also beginning to support Community Colleges skills projects. This will ensure that we further expand access to post school education and training in our country.

In my response to the President State of the Nation Address (SONA), I have committed that through our SETAs, we will increase our targets for Workplace-Based Learning for the financial year commencing on 1 April 2022, to 107 000.
We have also committed to have 15 000 TVET college graduates to be placed for Workplace-Based Learning. This is 5000 more than the SONA commitments.
We are also targeting 20 500 opportunities for apprentices, 22 500 for artisanal trades; 31 300 for those completing learnerships and 148 000 for learners entering into various other skills development programmes, such as digital skills, crop production and plant production.

I must indicate that we have made great strides to achieve our set targets in all these respects.
TVET colleges support

Ladies and gentlemen

In What we are gathered about today is as a result of our decision to launch 26 Centres of Specialisation in 2017 at 19 of our TVET Colleges, with an initial investment of R150 million to upgrade infrastructure.

We now have expanded our Centres of Specialisation to 34 Centres at 20 TVET Colleges with a further investment of R68 million and 16 Colleges now have 33 Trade Test Centres.

When this department was established in 2009, there was only one trade test centre for the whole country at Indlela, and this was presenting a huge obstacle in the pipeline of producing more artisans. Now we have 33, and this is indeed a huge achievement!

Our SETAs have injected R138 600 000 for the workplace training which was paid directly to employers to produce more artisans!

I can confirm that we now can conduct trade tests in all 13 of our priority trades at TVET Colleges. These trade test Centres have already trade tested over 500 people that have qualified as artisans.

Today we are witnessing over 350 artisans that have been trained and trade tested at TVET colleges, the biggest number that we have ever trade tested in a TVET college in any one year!

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all those that have been involved in this excellent work.

I must also indicate that our Centres of Specialisation are well positioned to prepare students for the workplace, or for self-employment, through the maintenance of close working relationships with employers in their areas of study.

We have also established entrepreneurship hubs at TVET Colleges to support students to move into self-employment after completion of their programmes.

I am also pleased to indicate that, working with my other Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), I will be supporting innovation programmes and projects in our TVET college sector! Artisans can indeed be innovators and historically they have always been!

I am also happy to announce that as a Department we have further re-developed the National Apprenticeship and Artisan Development Strategy to increase the interest of all artisan development role players i.e., Industry, Training Providers and TVET colleges.

The strategy artisan development strategy fosters collaboration with State Owned Companies (SoCs) and ensure that the Department of Higher Education and Training, the Department of Public Enterprises and other Government departments, participate in a Skills Development Committee to structure a quota system to revive SoCs active contribution to artisan training.

Unfortunately, the impact of state capture and its corruption in a number of SoCs has negatively impacted on the very important role historically played by these entities in the production of artisans.

The artisan training grant was also increased from R165 000 to R209 290 to encourage more employer participation in the production of artisans.

Through the Quality Council for Trade and Occupations (QCTO), we are currently working on aligning the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Levels to artisan training.

This will widen the scope of Artisan training thus encouraging learners to develop interest because artisan training will be located within a post school qualifications framework with unlimited linkages to other post-school learning possibilities.

To this extent, it is important that we continue to expand the partnerships that we have with industry.

There are also a number of other partnerships including the provision of training for both TVET college students as well as to give workplace exposure to TVET college lecturers, so that they teach and train in what is currently needed by industry.

As part of my service level agreement with all the SETAs, government priorities must be incorporated into their annual plans, especially those that are part of skills development initiatives to support the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Programme.

I have previously stated on numerous platforms that TVET college management, especially Principals, must know that they are not running TVET colleges unless they prioritise building partnerships with industry.

I gave a directive that all TVET college Principals should sign new Performance Agreements that include Industry Partnerships as one of their Key Performance Indicators. I want the department to ensure that this is not only implemented but properly monitored and evaluated on an ongoing basis as well.

Holding TVET college principal to account on work-placement is informed by the White Paper for Post-School Education and Training which requires Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) to be a central component of the college programmes.

The extent to which students are able to get placements in the workplace must be used as an important indicator for assessing the performance of the management of institutions.

TVET college Principals owe it to the youth and skills development in our country, that they lead in the establishment of strategic partnerships with industry.

There is nothing that frustrates me like visiting even a medium sized industrial area, and where there is a TVET college campus in the vicinity, only to find that there is not a single TVET college student or graduate placement in any of the workplaces there.

Let us also incorporate this into the work performance of our regional managers to support the effort of building industry partnerships.

I want to say this publicly, I need a report before end of January 2023 from the department on all the 50 TVET colleges on the industry partnerships that they have. And where colleges hardly have any such relationships, I also need an explanation as to why and for a strategy to be developed to realise such. If need be please come to my office for any additional help in forging these partnerships!

Let me also take this opportunity to thank all the employers who have joined in with us in our Centres of Specialisation in our colleges, including all those employers who work with us to provide workplace exposure and experience for both our TVET college students and lecturers.

We appreciate this partnership greatly and let us work to strengthen it. We also call all other employers, including SMEs, to join in with us in providing workplace experiential opportunity for our youth, in TVET and CET colleges, as well as generally for unemployed youth. We have about 3,6 million youth between the ages of 15-24 who are neither in education, employment nor training (NEETs).

It will indeed be a travesty of justice and a serious indictment on us, as leaders, if we were to allow our inaction to cause TVET colleges to become a dead-end for students.

Our Centres of Specialisation have shown the way and let us now work towards mainstreaming all their experiences and successes into the mainstream of our TVET college system.


To all those that will receive certificates as artisans today I wish to congratulate from the bottom of my heart, and to say we are very proud of you. Please remain good ambassadors of our TVET brand and continue to be the "cool artisans of the 21st century".

Graduating with a trade is a big step in your life's journey. Once you have obtained your trade certificate, or red seal as they call it, you form part of the alumni community.

The College in which you come from must remain your place of pride, and where you can continue to support the work of the college, please do so.

I also urge colleges to begin to establish some form of alumni societies to keep in touch with their own successful products and form some kind of relationship with them!

Let me also take this opportunity to thank all the TVET college management, lecturers, our SETAs and industry partners who worked hard to ensure that we produce these artisans today.

All I can say on such a day is to quote the founding father of our democracy President Nelson Mandela:


Building on these achievements, and learning the appropriate lessons from this experience, will indeed go a long way to ensure that we produce the necessary skills that we need to grow our economy in order to respond to the challenges of inequality and unemployment in our country.

Thank you very much to all of you. Once more to our artisans, congratulations!