Advice and Opinion

Importance Of Finding Solutions For Closing The Skills Gap In The Construction Sector

Perspectives on training for South Africa’s construction sector

About R1tn has been allocated for the Strategic Infrastruc­ture Projects (SIPs) in South Africa – which includes the building of roads, schools, univer­sities, harbours, power stations and other key infrastructure projects. The lack of skills and adequate training in the building and con­struction industry, how­ever, may hinder development of these ambitious infrastruc­ture projects and will certainly increase implementation costs. South Africa has experienced a shortage of about 50,000 artisans in the past few years. At the same time, the construction of mega projects has made the challenges for the industry even more demanding and complex.

One of the building and construc­tion industry’s greatest battles is the develop­ment and production of professionals that have the necessary skills. So far, South Africa’s construction sector has been largely trying to close this gap through importing skills.

Decade of the Artisan to promote the construction sector to South Africa’s youth

The importing of skills is hardly sustainable in the long-term; therefore, Government is trying to find an “in house” solution to closing the skills gap. Earlier this year, the Department of Higher Education and Training has, therefore, launched the “Decade of the Artisan” programme; a campaign that promotes artisanship as career of choice to young South Africans. The National Development Plan requires 30 000 new artisans per year in order to meet its objectives for the country’s infrastructure development. The fact that South Africa currently produces less than half of this required number shows how ambitious this project is.

Continuous professional development is key

Building a solid foundation of young artisans is, without doubt, very important for South Africa’s long-term success. However, equally crucial is the professional development of existing construction professionals. In the age of mega projects and a rapidly changing environment, ongoing skills development is more important than ever. Moreover, the aspect of maintenance of existing and future infrastructure must not be neglected. With increasing regional and global integration in mind, South Africa needs to focus urgently on providing its currently active professionals with a competitive edge.

Comprehensive training and skills development for (aspiring) construction professionals coming up in Johannesburg

With South Africa being a leader in skills development for the construction industry on the continent, the market has demanded a platform that caters for both aspiring artisans and active professionals. The African Construction Expo and Conference, taking place 26 – 28 May 2014 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, offers such a platform to the industry. Over three days, the event brings together 5000 government representatives and construction experts from across the continent – architects, contractors, designers, engineering firms, investors, property developers, project owners, quantity surveyors and specifiers – to facilitate an interactive exchange of knowledge and to advance professional development. The African Construction Expo, together with the co-located Totally Concrete Expo, covers issues around strategic business management and the production and use of concrete and cement products; registered engineers, architects and quantity surveyors earn CPD points. An interactive exhibition floor with 40 free-to-attend training workshops over two days completes the educational programme.

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