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All hands on deck

To find practical solutions to the skills shortage and alignment with 4IR

The Honorable Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr BE Nzimande, on the occasion of the Black Business Council (BBC), Gallagher Estate, Johannesburg on 4 March 2020, emphasized that one of the areas to invest in during economically challenging times is that of education, training and science and innovation. He continued to draw delegates’ attention to education and skills development as one of the seven priorities of this sixth administration. Dr Nzimande identified one of the biggest weaknesses in our Post School Education and Training (PSET) system as ‘the poor relationship between industry on the one hand, and universities and colleges on the other hand, manifesting in a failure to produce work ready-graduates or graduates capable of starting their own enterprises. The Minister lauded the RMI for the role the organisation plays in artisanal development through these Centres of Specialisation Programme, which is a Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) initiative.
The Skills Development Act 97 Of 1998 has several purposes, amongst others to develop the skills of the South African workforce to (i) improve the quality of life of workers, their prospects of work and labour mobility; (ii) improve productivity in the workplace and the competitiveness of employers; (iii) promote self-employment; and (iv) improve the delivery of social services.
The RMI’s New Venture Creation project, in collaboration with the merSETA, talks to the promotion of self-employment and, more specifically, in the automotive aftermarket. Learners, mainly from informal and rural areas, are required to complete all modules in the 138 credit qualification. These learners furthermore need to demonstrate the application of what they have learned at their respective businesses. Innovation and creativity form part of the modules, and very encouraging were the initiatives demonstrated by learners to, amongst others, diversify their businesses in touch economic times; stay abreast of technological advancements; and obtain workplace approval to train learner apprentices.
The Honorable Minister Nizimande, during his address at the BBC, referred to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to bring together, under one Ministry, higher education, training, science, and technology. He pointed out that, “in today’s world, the provision of high-quality skills and innovation are inseparable partners in the development of a modern economy. There can be no modern economy without an effective combination of skills and innovation.” During RMI Skills Summit 4IR: All Hands on Deck, in September 2019, all role-players in the retail motor industry, including educators, employers, CEOs, skills development practitioners, labour and government representatives, came together to plot the industry’s way forward in the light of the recently promulgated National Skills Development Plan.
In closing, the RMI is pleased to see the latest commitments and initiatives from the government to promote relationships with industry on the skills development front. Jeánne Esterhuizen, RMI President, concluded the RMI Skills Summit by saying: “At the end of the day, we need to achieve a higher quality of artisan and find opportunities for industry to assist with giving artisans better work experience. We don’t have to look outside this county to find the best practice, because most of the international companies are here and have training facilities. They are delivering world-class training to their people and have the technology, and often that learning is not restricted to their personnel but available to interested parties. We need the support of the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA) to facilitate setting up an Industry Education Forum whereby these issues can be taken forward into practical solutions to the skills shortage and alignment with 4IR.”