High demand for qualified tradesmen

Artisans' skills help keep the world turning

Bricklaying is not just a trade, but is also an art that requires practice and guidance.
Bricklaying is not just a trade, but is also an art that requires practice and guidance.
Image: Vukuzenzele

SA needs more artisans such as bricklayers, diesel mechanics, instrument technicians, riggers, auto electricians and millwrights.

The department of higher education, science and innovation says there is a high demand for tradesmen who are highly skilled and who primarily work in a technical field, doing skilled manual labour.

Minister Blade Nzimande says the department is working hard to encourage young people to become artisans. “In 2014, we launched the decade of the artisan, which seeks to promote artisanship as a career of choice for SA’s youth and highlight skills development opportunities for artisans.”

Mihle Mvelakubi, 25, from Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape, owns Mvelakubi Civil Engineering and Projects, which does bricklaying, tiling, plumbing and paving.

Mvelakubi says his passion started when he was a learner at Agulhas School of Skills in Napier in the Western Cape, where he specialised in bricklaying and plastering, woodwork, welding and agriculture.

After school, he chose the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) route, doing an NC(V) civil engineering and building construction level 2-4 programme and eventually obtained a national diploma in civil engineering and building after completing his N4 to N6 at the College of Cape Town.

In 2017, he represented SA in bricklaying at the WorldSkills international vompetition in the United Arab Emirates.

“The competition helped me realise that bricklaying is not just a trade, but it is also an art that I had developed through consistent practice, great mentorship and guidance.

“Without skills, we wouldn’t have had any of the things we have all over the world, such as buildings, cars, aeroplanes and trains.

"For the economy to grow, we need all these skills and critical thinking. It is the TVET institutions that create these skilled people," said Mvelakubi.

To enter a recognised learning programme to become an artisan, you must get at least 40% for mathematics (excluding maths literacy) and a Grade 9 or national certificate level 2 pass.

You will need to attend a TVET college and then do workplace learning before being able to take a trade test, which will certify you as a qualified artisan.

Trade tests can be done at a national trade test centre that is accredited by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations. 

– This article first appeared in GCIS Vuk'uzenzele

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