The Department of Higher Education and Training launched the ‘Decade of the Artisan’ to encourage the youth of South Africa to enroll for an artisan course at their local TVET college. The current average age of an Artisan is 55, which means that in a couple of years we won’t have qualified artisans to replace the ones who are retiring. The aim of the programme is to produce 30 000 qualified artisans per year by 2030. This is a tall order and the Department of Higher Education has set strict growth targets for the colleges and is investing in upgrading TVET colleges as well as building new campuses to accommodate higher student numbers.
The slogan for the programme is: “It’s cool to be a 21st century Artisan.” The slogan is an indication of how the department is trying to change public perceptions around TVET colleges. We live in a culture where a college education is seen as ‘inferior’ and less important than a university education. Many students are under the (incorrect) impression that the earning potential of an artisan is significantly less than that of a university graduate. If you consider that an average salary for an Electrician is around R17 000 per month (R206 974 annually)* and the average salary for a Registered Nurse is R14 899 (R178 796 annually)*, being an artisan certainly doesn’t pay badly.
It is also good to know that an artisan programme will generally cost a student between R2 000 and R8 000 in tuition fees, which is considerably less than a university qualification.
Looking at the TVET sector, it certainly is ‘cool to be a 21st century Artisan’.
For more information visit the National Artisan Development Support Centre: http://nadsc.dhet.gov.za/Default.aspx
Yolandi Farham, TVET Publisher, Oxford University Press Southern Africa