Artisan training and development – Apprenticeships and/or RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning)

Artisans are the backbone of the economy. Without the technical support of the artisans, our infrastructure will collapse. Apprenticeships are a great way to get a head start in a career. Future artisans can combine time at work with training to gain a nationally recognized qualification and the experience they need to get the job they want. The South African Government has identified a number of scarce and critical skills and the National Skills Development Strategy III marked Apprenticeship Development as a priority. At the same time too many skilled labourers are working for too long without the necessary recognition or receiving the opportunity to be certified as an artisan. 2013 saw some ground breaking interventions taking place in the ambit of critical skills development, and it all started in February 2013 when the Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande, officially declared and launched the “Year of the Artisan” and later on the “Decade of the Artisan” initiatives.

The Minister made the following statement: “Closely associated with the expansion of education and training opportunities is the question of raising the status of vocational training. 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. With the launch of “2013: The Year of the Artisan”, we are actively changing this misconception, and working towards making TVET Colleges, and the artisan and other career-based training programmes that they offer, the option of choice for the majority of our youth – and other out of school adults – who take this route”.

The Skills Development Act No. 97 of 1998 allows a candidate to attempt a trade test as a registered apprentice, or as a person who has prior learning (RPL) experience.

Apprentice candidate

You would be registered as an apprentice with Africa Skills for a contracted period of three years  and you would have signed a contract with Africa Skills and the relevant SETA. Duration – 3 years of which 3 months per year will be spent at the Africa Skills accredited Training and Trade Test Centre in George for theoretical and institutional training, and a further 9  months per year practical workplace based training at a SETA verified Host Employer, and managed and mentored by Africa Skills. Phase Tests will be conducted yearly and the full trade test after the completion of the 3 years training

In summary, an  apprentice:

Has a contract of apprenticeship.
Attends formalised institutionalised training
Must be in possession of an N2 trade-related or equivalent subjects from an Private College Must have a workplace that will provide the apprentice with onsite training
Must report to a qualified tradesperson  with same qualifications;
Will do a trade test as a final evaluation.

RPL candidate

As an RPL candidate, you will not have a contract of apprenticeship, but will have to prove previous experience in your chosen trade through either logbooks, letters from the companies you worked for or similar proof that can be substantiated. . potential RPL candidates will be screened and pre-tested, and applicable and appropriate gap training will be implemented over a period of up to 6 months, depending on the gap and the ability of the candidate. A complete trade test will then be required as a final evaluation

In summary a RPL candidate:

Has no contract of apprenticeship;
Attends formalised institutionalised training where applicable
Must have at least five year’s proven workplace experience relevant to the training schedule of the trade for which the candidate is applying;
Will do a trade test as an evaluation.