Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande says the Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs), which relate to higher education infrastructure, are underway, with these projects expected to produce 65 742 jobs over a three-year period.
The country has 18 SIPs, with SIP 14 projects directly dealing with the backlog in higher education infrastructure. This includes the building of two new universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga (preparatory work for which has started); building Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, student accommodation and the refurbishment of existing universities.
Speaking at The New Age breakfast briefing, held in Fourways on Thursday, Nzimande said this included the building of 12 new FET college campuses and extensive upgrading of two existing FET campuses.
“SIP 14, on its own, is a R12.6 billion initiative — R2.5 billion for FET infrastructure, R8 billion for various university infrastructure projects, which includes R2 billion co-funding from the universities themselves, and R2.1 billion for the two new universities.
“The infrastructure programme will, among others, yield jobs in construction-related areas, such as … the built environment professional space; engineering in different manifestations; construction material manufacturing and retail; training, as well as other potential entrepreneurial activities,” Nzimande said.
Nzimande said this also created an opportunity for skills development through learnerships, apprenticeships, internships and graduate.
Some of the SIPs already underway included unlocking the Northern Mineral Belt; building the Durban-Free State–Gauteng Logistics and Industrial Corridor; a range of energy and water projects, as well as addressing basic service infrastructure in the 23 poorest districts in the country.
Nzimande said he was mandated to ensure the construction of these projects produced learning opportunities for people on a significant scale.
“In terms of its key mandate, the main contribution of the Department of Higher Education and Training towards the creation of jobs is primarily through the supply of the skills required to build the various sectors of the economy. However, in executing this core function, it also contributes directly to the creation of jobs through the employment of academic and support staff.
“The second opportunity presents itself in the creation of jobs through its post-school infrastructure expansion programme.
“The third opportunity is providing a mechanism for skilling and training individuals within the built environment, artisan development and placement of students for Work Integrated Learning across all 18 SIPs,” he said.
The department is investing more than R74 million from the National Skills Fund into the Labour Market Intelligence Project (LMIP), a programme it is executing in partnership with the Human Sciences Research Council and universities.
“The goal is to devise a credible institutional mechanism for skills planning in our country,” Nizmande said.
He acknowledged the Executive Mayor of City of Tshwane, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, for his recent announcement, committing to absorb at least 500 FET trainee/graduates in the City on annual basis.
Nzimande urged business and everyone to strive to establish partnerships with and build the capacity of FET colleges.
South African Government News Agency