SA-India pact boosts critical skills in Mzansi

Centre of specialisation to churn out trained cadres

Daniel Ramnarain is an apprentice mechanical fitter at the new Gandhi-Mandela Centre of Specialisation for Artisan Skills at Tshwane South TVET College.
Daniel Ramnarain is an apprentice mechanical fitter at the new Gandhi-Mandela Centre of Specialisation for Artisan Skills at Tshwane South TVET College.
Image: VUKUZENZELE

Tshwane South Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College at Pretoria West Campus is the first in South Africa to have five specialist trades for artisanal skills.

This is according to Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Buti Manamela, who recently opened the Gandhi-Mandela Centre of Specialisation for Artisan Skills at the college.

The centre offers mechanical fitting, millwright, electrical, boilermaker, and fitting and turning courses.

Manamela said centres of specialisation are well positioned to prepare students for the workplace, or for self-employment, by ensuring they are taught the skills employers need.

The Gandhi-Mandela Centre of Specialisation for Artisanal Skills is one of the 30 centres that will be rolled out across the country. It was named after India’s civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi and former president Nelson Mandela.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in 2018 to set up the centre in South Africa.

In 2018, the department announced it intended to launch 26 centres of specialisation, prioritising 13 occupational trades that are in high demand to curb the shortage of trade skills, and to reduce unemployment and poverty.

The centres of specialisation are located at 19 TVET colleges across the country. They were provided with resources to upgrade their workshops and equipment to deliver effectively on much-needed skills.  

Through the National Skills Fund, the department allocated R150m for the initial set-up costs.

The government of India injected R48m worth of equipment and tools as part of the deal it signed with the South Africa in 2018.

“This investment has enabled us to increase the number of centres of specialisation from the 26 initially planned to 30,” said Manamela.

World-class equipment

Daniel Ramnarain, 24, is an apprentice mechanical fitter at the college and is one of the first students to use the world-class equipment.

“I have completed my phase one assessment. I am currently working as part of my apprenticeship and this prepares me for the work environment, ” he says.

Ramnarain is currently working at Matimba Power Station in Lephalale, Limpopo, as a trainee apprentice. He still has to complete phase two and three of the course and pass a trade tes, before he graduates.

“The centre teaches us about using machines and strategies to make production faster,” he said.

Ramnarain plans to further his studies and become a mechanical engineer. “I would like to get as much work experience as possible and open my own business.”

To enrol for one of the courses at the Gandhi-Mandela Centre of Specialisation for the Artisan Skills, you need to have a grade 12 certificate and have an N2 qualification.

This article was first published in GCIS-Vukuzenzele

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