A forecast of South Africa’s scarce skills

With South Africa’s unemployment rate at its highest in almost 15 years, it is crucial that the youth is made aware of viable future vocations. According to the Artisan Training Institute (ATI), the current industry shortage of skilled artisans in some trades, offers an alternative and often an even more secure choice as a career path, than securing a university degree.

A number of trend reports, including the Department of Higher Education and Training’s National Scarce Skills List, supports this advice.

Trading Economics’s May 2018 statistics, pegs South Africa’s unemployment rate for this year’s first quarter at 26.7%, with the number of unemployed increasing by 100 000 to 5.98 million. These numbers are worrying, as this means that the country’s unemployment levels are at their highest in almost 15 years. Of the almost six million unemployed, the country’s youth are the most affected. With an increase of 1.6%, 58% of South Africa’s youth population is now unemployed, states IOL News.

Unfortunately, in these challenging economic conditions, a university degree is not a guarantee for securing employment after graduation. Statistic SA’s fourth-quarter labour survey for 2016 indicated that of the 58% unemployed youth, 7% are graduates.

In response to these statistics, the ANC stated that in order to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030, more than 30 000 – 40 000 qualified artisans should be produced annually to meet the industry’s labour demand. This mirrors the demand globally for a focus on promoting mid-level skills development to ease youth unemployment.

Artisan vocations are the answer

Another barrier South Africa’s unemployed face is international competition. Due to the local skills shortage, companies are turning towards the global landscape to fill vacant positions. A 2017 critical skills survey by Xpatweb showed that 75% of South African companies actively seek international talent to fill positions, despite prohibitive visa processes. One of the critical occupations where companies struggle to find the necessary candidates locally, includes skilled artisans.

This shortage of skilled artisans poses an opportunity for youth to secure future employment. Instead of opting for expensive university and university of technology degrees or diplomas, which can result in thousands of Rands of debt, vocational schools offer them a better chance at landing a job and building a successful career. The value of apprenticeship training is that learners gain valuable work experience while undergoing their training.

In an interview with RNEWS, Sean Jones, Managing Director of the Artisan Training Institute (ATI), stated that many of the newly qualified artisans that complete their apprenticeships are almost immediately employed. ATI offers quality technical training in South Africa with this 35-year-old institute training around 1, 200 to 1, 400 learners per annum.

“This is very much in line with a trend that we have noticed in industry; which is that quality artisanal qualifications provide fast access to the job market, better remuneration, and promising future career prospects.” He further states that the continued development of quality artisan qualifications can substantially alleviate the youth unemployment in South Africa.