Skills development A number of investors are driving skills development in the province.
he Western Cape has two problems relating to employment: not enough work for unskilled workers, and not enough skilled workers to take up available jobs. This double-sided challenge is a legacy of apartheid and it exists throughout South Africa. Although the province has higher overall ratios of highly skilled and skilled workers than the national averages, less than 20% of the construction industry’s workforce in the Western Cape is categorised as skilled or highly skilled (Quantec, 2013). According to a national business conditions survey conducted in early 2016, a skills deficit is hampering the construction industry. Construction has been one of the best performing sectors in the Western Cape economy for a number of years, so improvement in this sphere is vital. The food sector is the other important area where work has to be done to impart skills to the workforce. The Western Cape Provincial Government has listed skills development as one of four key “enablers” of the regional economy. A specific intervention relevant to the construction industry is offered by the provincial Department of Transport and Public WESTERN CAPE BUSINESS 2017
Works. Targeted training for emerging contractors is presented in regional centres like Riversdale and Worcester, and in Piketberg and Saldanha. The fourweek, modular course, which covers issues such as site management, safety and enterprise development, allows contractors to continue running their businesses while they study. The course supports the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). Another provincial initiative was launched in October 2016: the Western Cape’s Apprenticeship Game Changer. Announced at the annual meeting of the Premier’s Council on Skills, the Game Changer aims to introduce 32 500 qualified apprentices into the labour market by 2019. R1-billion has been allocated over a three-year time frame. Businesses have been asked to identify the specific skills they need, so for example the oil and gas sector needs welders certified to a certain level. A range of interventions at national and regional level have been launched to tackle the problem in the public and private sphere: • Six of South Africa’s biggest construction companies have established a R1.25-billion skills fund