Correctional Services spokesman Manelisi Wolela has denied allegations that student leader Mcebo Dla.
The scarcity of skills, especially in engineering, quantity surveying and architecture, has prompted the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Public Works to launch one-year practical training project.
Yesterday, MEC Lydia Johnson launched a pilot project to train tertiary-level students.
Her department will take on students on an annual basis, employ them to gain experience towards helping them register as professionals.
"The construction industry is booming, but the department is forced to look outside the province, and even outside the country, for professionals.
"This is the gap we are trying to close," she said.
Johnson said the shortages of skills in the fields of engineering and quantity surveying were likely to adversely affect the maintenance of existing government infrastructure and the delivery of basic needs.
She said this would affect the construction of major infrastructure for the 2010 World Cup.
Seven students were taken on this year, but the department would treble the number next year.
She said consulting firms had come on board and would also be taking on some graduates for practical experience.
Thila Khusi from Harding, a mechanical engineering graduate, said the internship programme could not have come at a better time.
"All of us have already received our degrees or diplomas, but we can't be credited as professionals because we don't have enough experience or the skills as required by the Engineering Council of South Africa," said Khusi.