Why Matrics should not shun vocational training

Cape Town - When looking at career options, the Matric class of 2016 should also consider furthering their education through vocational training, according to Tony Keal, group skills facilitator at the Master Builders Association of the Western Cape (MBAWC).

He explained that there is a worldwide demand for vocational skills and in some countries tradespeople like electricians and plumbers earn more than doctors and lawyers.

“Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges have been spared the upheaval that other institutions of higher learning have experienced. Furthermore, they are 80% subsidised by the government, meaning that the fees are affordable," said Keal.

READ: SA needs mindshift about artisans

Madikwe Mabotha, spokesperson for the Department of Higher Education and Training, told Fin24 on Friday that a mind-set change is needed regarding vocational training.

"Artisanship is a good alternative career for young people. Yet, we have a certain degree of obsession in SA with universities and technicons, but there are other avenues," said Mabotha.

"There is a lot of money to be made as an artisan. These are not jobs that should be looked down on. We are all gifted in different ways. The department even have some colleges where tuition is free. Then there are also community colleges across the country we want to direct young people to."

Mabotha said artisans like plumbers, electricians, engineers and welders are in demand.

"The country needs the specialised skills of professional artisans and even internationally SA welders, for instance, are sought after," said Mabotha.

"It is no good having a qualification on your wall that is not market related."

He said the department's website has a career guidance section and there is also a website offering a career development service.

"It is important for young people to make the right choices when deciding on their future. That is why we encourage them to go through career counselling from Grade 11 so that they can be sure they choose something they are passionate about and are prepared to train for," said Mabotha.

Apprenticeship programme

The MBAWC itself has offered apprenticeship programmes for the past 12 years, giving those with Grade 9 and above the opportunity to establish a vocational career. The organisation funds the training of those selected for the programme and places them with its members in order to put theoretical knowledge into practice. The apprentices also receive a wage as determined by the Building Industry Collective agreement.

In addition, the MBAWC has embarked on the training of supervisory staff. This is because there has been a decline in this category of employee over the past 20 years. According to Keal, candidates are carefully selected and ideally should have a Grade 12 certificate.  

They are then entered into a training programme, which exposes them to all facets of building work. The candidates are placed with MBAWC member companies to gain on-site practical experience. At the end of their training period they qualify for an NQF Level 4 SA Qualifications Authority approved certificate in site supervisory practices.

The MBAWC pays all training costs and monitors their progress on a monthly basis. According to Keal, the success of this programme can be seen in a number of people who have completed the programme and are currently working for member companies.

The MBAWC has also established a Skills and Education Trust in order to upskill employees currently working in the building industry with nationally registered qualifications. The trust funds short courses and various other training programmes.
“Those who opt for vocational training are able to attain nationally recognised qualifications that will enable them to find employment nationally,” says Keal.

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