Implementing efficient and effective learnerships in the construction industry : a study in the building and civil sector of the Western Cape
Thesis (MComm (Industrial Psychology))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.
Since the end of apartheid in 1994 South Africa has made significant gains and progress in overcoming the legacy of its past. But despite this progress, low levels of skills among the majority of the formerly disadvantaged population and stubbornly high unemployment rates, especially among youths (age 15-24), still remain the country’s most pressing concerns and greatest impediments towards a better future for all. The learnership system, which was introduced by the Skills Development Act in 1998, was perceived as a creative vehicle to tackle these problems in two significant ways: first, by enhancing skills levels in a workplace-oriented environment and second by providing learners with employment during the phase of acquiring recognised occupational training. But since its actual implementation in 2000, the system has not always been able to meet up to its expectations. Low enrolment rates and a slow employer take up characterise the system in some industrial sectors. This is particularly true for the construction sector, which is perceived as an escalator industry for skills development by the government, as the industry requires fairly basic and intermediate skills. Moreover, the industry provides the necessary infrastructure for all other economic sectors and thus is critical for the country’s future economic growth and international competitiveness. The low employer take-up in the sector seems to be persistent, despite the fact that the industry is currently experiencing huge constraints in terms of skills, most importantly in carrying out the infrastructural projects connected to the government’s Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative (AsgiSA). This includes a R372 billion spending plan for various kinds of general infrastructure and in preparation for the Soccer World Cup in 2010. Due to the low involvement in training the industry faces a severe shortage of adequately skilled staff, particularly artisans across all major trades. The shortage of artisans, which is considered to hamper infrastructure development both in the public and private sector, is projected to go beyond 2010. The implementation of an efficient and effective learnership system for the industry is thus not only a priority need of the current situation but also for securing quality work and skills in the sector for the longer term. This is regarded as particularly important in view of the crucial role of the industry for the national economy. The primary objective of this study was to map and shed light on the current state of the learnership system in the construction industry (building and civil), to identify the major obstacles currently observed by its key stakeholders and building on this to provide possible solutions for putting an efficient and effective learnership system into place.