The shortage of artisan and engineering skills in the country has prompted
government to focus on and promote study and job "opportunities' in this
sector. But are we being realistic about these opportunities?
False Bay College CEO Cassie Kruger emphasised the massive employment
and career opportunities by saying, "if you want a job become an artisan'.
Addressing high school principals and various education stakeholders,
Kruger encouraged listeners to promote the artisan and engineering fields in
He said that educators, parents, youth leaders, sports coaches and
counselors all had a role to play in helping students pursue the most suitable
Stereotypical ideas about the artisan and engineering industry were
hampering growth and preventing students from entering the field, according to
He commended government for their financial contribution to the sector
through bursaries, and noted that students could also access funding through
the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.
Initially dubbed the "Year of the Artisan', government has now commenced
the "Decade of the Artisan' as a symbol of its ongoing focus on this sector.
However, while leaders paint a rosy picture of the opportunities in the
artisan sector, especially for disadvantaged students, it should not be
considered a free for all.
Kruger made it clear that only those who had a capacity for the engineering
fields would be able to access funding and study further.
Most bursaries or financial aid schemes are conditional. Students who qualify for
financial aid generally have to maintain a certain level of academic proficiency in
order to continue receiving funding for the full course of study.
The reality is that students who apply for engineering programmes need to
be adept at certain subjects before they can enter the field. Subjects such as
maths and science were cited as two of the main indicators of student aptitude.
Speaking about the engineering programmes offered at False Bay College
Kruger said, "FBC does not accept students with maths literacy'.
He explained that colleges could not accept students into programmes that
were above the academic level of the applicant as they would be doomed to
Overcrowding at colleges also means that many students will face rejection.
Due to the amount of applications colleges have the luxury of choosing the top-
scoring applicants. This means that many deserving students will have to seek
This is where learning models such as apprenticeships and learnerships can
open doors for motivated students.
There is no denying that there are opportunities in the artisan sector and
stakeholders have done everything they can to support students entering the
artisan and engineering fields. However these golden opportunities are reserved
for those with the motivation, hard work and academic ability to pursue them.
By Cindy Payle - Portal Publishing