Skills development drive to train thousands

2008-02-28 00:00

Three crucial interventions to address challenges in the second-economy — centred on access to finance, monitoring government procurement and a colossal R1,8 billion three-year skills development drive — have emerged from the 2008/09 KZN budget.

Finance and Economic Development MEC Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that the provincial government will embark on a three-year skills development drive aimed at training 345 000 students in various trades.

However, Mkhize conceded that the output, especially in the technical trades, is not nearly enough to meet the demands of the market.

“In addition to this training, we are engaging the department of Education to extend its FET training programmes to provide artisan training to students in a number of fields relevant to the automotive and construction industries, such as spray painting, panel beating, brick-laying, plastering, plumbing and tiling as well as general skills such as entrepreneurship and financial management.”

Mkhize also announced the establishment of a specialised institution for accelerated training in mathematics, science and information communication technology.

Meanwhile, “Isilulu Sabahwebi”, a R10 million rural-community saving and lending scheme for the business activities of small traders, has been established.

Mkhize explained that they received feedback during the budget road-shows from small-scale traders who are unable to access micro-finance.

The Ithala-managed scheme will provide loans ranging from R200 up to R5 000 per venture.

It is understood that the traders will form groups and will not be required to construct detailed business plans.

The provincial government has already injected R314,3 million into co-operatives and SMME programmes over the past four years.

While noting that departments are expected to intensify their support of SMMEs and co-operatives through procurement spending, Mkhize added that they have now put systems in place to track this on a bi-monthly basis.

Babu Baijoo, who is a director at the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB) and the deputy president of the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI), described the budget as balanced.

He welcomed the new lending scheme, adding that small business support agencies and organised business as a whole are ready to assist in the much-needed mentorship of small scale traders.

He also welcomed the announcement of a strategy to combat fraud and corruption in the provincial administration, centred on identifying vulnerability factors on the provincial IT systems and networks.

Zama Phakathi, spokesperson for the Durban Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI), welcomed the injection of funds into FET programmes.

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