Young people should stop pursuing university degrees that would result in them joining the list of unemployed graduates, Deputy Higher Education Minister Mduduzi Manana said on Tuesday.
Manana was speaking to more than 1 200 pupils from different schools at the Capricorn Technical, Vocational, Education and Training (Tvet) college in Seshego, as part of "Decade of the Artisan" campaign.
"If we don't have [an artisan qualification], the rate of unemployment will be higher. Some learners are pursuing a university degree which is not marketable and they end up joining the unemployed because of lack of career counselling," said Manana.
The deputy minister said the number of unemployed graduates in South Africa was at risk of increasing due to wrong career choices.
"We have 600 000 unemployed graduates in this country and if the number increase, it will cause chaos. When hunger strikes, they will come to your home and steal. When crime rises, we are in trouble.
"With the artisan programme, jobs are guaranteed. Government is not the employer, but the private sector is. The reason we have so many unemployed graduates is because of minimal career counselling."
He added that the shortage of artisans in the country was an obstacle to economic growth.
"We have 134 artisan trades [and] we have recruited more than 1 000 artisans from Thailand because we don't have enough in our country. There is a demand for artisans in SA, but there is no demand for lawyers.
"We must strengthen industrialisation. Eskom promised to take 100 artisans from the Capricorn Tvet College."
Manana said it was critical for pupils to choose careers in Grade 9.
He said an artisan was a person who had been certified as competent to perform a listed trade, in accordance with the Skills Development Act.
These included bricklayers, electricians, millwrights, boilermakers, plumbers, fitters and turners, plasterers, welders and pipe fitters.
"An important consideration... is to choose careers that are on the scarce and critical list, since they are the ones in short supply and highly needed in the industry sectors."
Manana said the requirements of becoming an artisan included a minimum of 40% in Mathematics (excluding mathematical literacy) at Grade 9 level or National Certificate (Vocational) Level 2.
He said in cases of civil, mechanical and electrical categories of trades, a minimum of 40% in the relevant N2 trade theory or the relevant vocational subjects of the National Certificate (Vocational) Level 2.
"The entire pathway ends with a trade test at a national trade test centre that is accredited by the Quality Council of Trades and Occupations. In order to call yourself a qualified artisan, you must pass the trade test," said Manana.
The slogan of the campaign is "It’s cool to be a 21st century artisan".