The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has set aside almost R2-billion in bursaries for further education and training (FET) college students for this year, Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande said on Monday.
Speaking at an event to declare 2013 the Year of the Artisan, Nzimande reiterated the need for South Africa to increase the number of qualified and competent artisans to enable the country to successfully deliver on its strategic infrastructure projects (SIPs).
“Government views the production of artisans and other mid-level skills as a priority, and that is why we are investing all these billions into the development of our FET colleges to turn them into institutions of choice, so that we will not have to import skills from other countries to deliver on our SIPs,” the Minister commented.
The R2-billion in funding is a significant increase on the R310-million in funding made available in 2009.
Nzimande further stressed the need to improve the status and profile of artisan trades.
“The idea that trades and other vocational programmes are only for those who can’t get into university, is deeply ingrained in our society and has a detrimental effect on our ability to develop the skills required by our labour market, not to mention the status of those who make a very important contribution to our economy and society,” he stated.
As part of the Year of the Artisan initiative, the DHET would work towards changing that perception and ensuring that FET colleges and the training programmes they offer, become the “options of choice” among South Africa’s youth.
Higher Education and Training Deputy Minister Mduduzi Manana would lead an initiative to promote artisanry as a career option for the youth across all provinces.