Train more women artisans

Cape Town – The majority of women in South Africa are still not gaining in terms of job placements in the economy, according to Sean Jones, CEO of the Artisan Training Institute (ATI), a black empowerment company.

He said, while legislation has been passed to push for more employment of women in the workplace, it appears SA is lagging when compared to its peers.

In his view, the benefits employers are experiencing in training more women artisans include a widening of the skills net and in his experience women perform well in the engineering trades.

“We are finding that more women are graduating as electricians, fitters and turners, and measurement, control and instrumentation technicians,” said Jones. He hopes this trend will expand to other artisan disciplines, such as diesel mechanics, boiler makers and auto electricians.

He pointed out that one of the primary objectives of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is to see equal representation of women in traditionally segregated work environments from company boards, to the shop floor. Critically, this representation should include equal remuneration.

“We also need to promote women in the artisan industry. There will be a shortage in SA when the global economy emerges from the current doldrums – and training women could alleviate part of this worrying shortfall,” said Jones.

“Unfortunately, artisan training has seen a sharp decline over the last 24 months as a result of contractions in the mining, engineering and agricultural sectors due to companies experiencing cash flow and budget constraints.”

The SA government said in November last year it wants to address the engineering skills shortage by aiming to have at least 24 000 competent artisans by 2020.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said at the time that government wants to address the skills shortage among artisans, technicians, and engineers. A Joint Engineering Education Working Group between the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Engineering Council was established to ensure that engineering skills needs are addressed.

Earlier this year Jones asked for a mind shift in SA about artisans, both by educational institutions and the broader population. He would like to see the youth consider a career as an artisan, as it would offer, in his view, quicker access to full-time employment.

Article initially published on Fin24

Sean Jones

Sean Jones, MD

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