2010 World Cup on track

10 December, 2006 at 10:28 am | Posted in Economy | Leave a comment

Gauteng’s public transport, roads and works department has set up a programme to train more than 5000 artisans needed to fill the vacancies for the upgrading and refurbishment of infrastructure in the province ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

The province plans to spend more than R50bn on infrastructure over the next five years to stimulate economic growth, reduce unemployment and improve the lives of residents, but there is concern about whether Gauteng has the skills to make the necessary improvements and maintain present services. Leaders in the construction industry, such as Group Five CEO Mike Lomas, have warned that the biggest stumbling block to the expected construction boom will be a shortage of artisans and technical support staff in the civil engineering industry. The skills shortage has led to a scramble for skills in business and government, and has led to concern that infrastructure projects may not be completed in time for the World Cup.

According to Gauteng’s public transport, roads and works department, there is a 30% technical staff shortage in the province, particularly in regard to specialised skills. Department spokesman Alfred Nhlapo says Gauteng plans to have trained 1000 artisans by March next year, and to train 2000 a year between next year and 2009. It is also recruiting qualified artisans and training them to upgrade to professional status to ensure that there is no skills lag. Those with technical experience will be offered six weeks of theoretical preparation to undergo the trade test, and will be registered with the Artisan Professional Body.

“The trained and accredited artisans will be deployed in infrastructure projects across Gauteng,” says Nhlapo. “Many of the artisans will also find jobs in the Gautrain project. Some will be involved in road construction, electromechanics and waste management.”

Nhlapo says there is high demand for the programme, which supports education department initiatives, the Artisans Programme, the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (Jipsa) and Asgi-SA, the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for SA. All applicants must have a Grade 10, a valid identity document and be younger than 35. Preference will be given to unemployed youth, retrenched mineworkers and unskilled adults. SA still has to go some way to fill the skills gap. The country produced 1440 registered apprentices in 2004, but it is estimated it will need 25000 qualified artisans by 2010.

It is also estimated that the shortage of intermediate and certain high-level skills such as artisans, technicians and technical operatives could cost the country 1% of gross domestic product. Impophoma Infrastructure Support Unit, set up to run the project in Gauteng, will eventually act as a labour broker, placing artisans with employers.

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