Artisan Development Programme

Be part of the most important Artisan Development Programme in South Africa

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The SEIFSA Training Centre hereby extends an invitation to member companies to participate in an Artisan Development Project known as War on Leaks, in partnership with the Department of Water and Sanitation and the EWSETA.


This project aims to support the National Skills Accord initiative and train 15000 artisans. It includes the following outcomes:

Artisan Development Programme

  • Recruitment and selection of candidates;
  • Indenture apprentices on training contracts;
  • Institutional training of 26 weeks at the SEIFSA Training Centre according to SETA qualification requirements;
  • Placement of candidates for practical training at employers; and
  • Final training and trade testing at the SEIFSA Training Centre.

Project Costs
The following project costs will be covered by the Project:

  • Recruitment and selection of candidates;
  • Institutional and final training costs;
  • A monthly stipend for candidates for the duration of training programme;
  • A toolkit and PPE needed during formal training phases;
  • Monitoring of candidates’ progress at employer sites; and
  • Administration and reporting of candidates’ progress.

Employer Obligations

  • Willingness of participating employer/s to take on candidate/s for practical training and exposure on site (the candidates should be able to start with practical, on-the-job training, on site, from January 2019);
  • Induction and workplace safety requirements;
  • PPE needed as to work site requirements; and
  • Mentor candidates through the guidance of a qualified artisan over a period of 18-24 months.

Artisan Trades
Candidates will be trained in the following trades:

  • Fitter and Turner/Mechanical (30 trainees)

Once the candidate has completed his/her trade test successfully, the employer is under no obligation to offer him/her employment. This is a general outline of the training programme and a serious attempt by the Department of Water and Sanitation, the EWSETA and the SEIFSA Training Centre to contribute to the development of artisans.

If you are interested in participating in this initiative, please forward the number of apprentices, per trade, that your organisation is willing to accommodate in the workplace to or

South Africa needs a strong technical skills base to grow the economy

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South Africa needs a strong technical skills base to grow the economy, argues Melanie Mulholland

We need to set straight the inference that vocational and technical jobs are inferior. This notion has led many youngsters unwilling or unsuited for academic study to frustration, feelings of failure, hopelessness and depression. We must change the mindset of parents and educators who wrongly perceive vocational training as education for less-talented students with limited career prospects. In fact, the mindset that vocational training is inferior has led to a decline in vocational education and training enrolment figures over the last couple of years.

To shift the paradigm and to deliver 21st century artisans, South Africa’s technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges are undergoing a rapid transformation and grooming a generation of professional artisans acquainted not only with trade skills, but also soft skills that will be required when the fourth industrial revolution kicks in. TVET colleges, therefore, produce critical thinkers, problem solvers and design thinkers.

South Africa needs a strong technical skills base to grow the economy, but we also need to combine the technical skills base with entrepreneurial development since existing businesses can’t continually absorb skills without reaching breaking point. A successful vocational and professional education and training system can facilitate growth, entrepreneurship and prosperity for individuals and the country.

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On 9 February 2012, former President Jacob Zuma announced the Government’s plan to initiate a massive infrastructure investment programme. The programme consists of 18 Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs). Each one of these projects addresses a particular socio-economic opportunity or challenge within the country, like artisan skills such as electricians, boilermakers, plumbers, welders and pipe fitters, to name a few, which are in short supply. Unfortunately, we don’t have a skills force of qualified artisans to complete or maintain these projects.

On 9 March 2018, Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor met with leaders representing businesses in South Africa to secure partnerships with the department in order to implement the Centres of Specialisation (COS) programmes through TVET colleges and produce artisans and entrepreneurs across a range of economic sectors. The COS programme aims to secure partnerships between industry and 26 TVET colleges across the country, enabling the training of 21st-century artisans in 13 priority trade areas that will support the SIPs. These areas include bricklayers, electricians, boilermakers, plumbers, automotive and diesel mechanics, carpenters and joiners, welders, fitters and turners and riggers.

Therefore, the COS programme should contribute towards reducing unemployment among the current 7.2 million youths between the ages of 15 and 34 who are not in employment, education or training.

Businesses in the metals and engineering sector are already committed to skills development, particularly artisan and apprenticeship development. The focus on trades during the aptly named Decade of the Artisan (2014-2024) allows companies to enable and support artisan development by offering workplace opportunities. In turn, business contributes to a continuous supply of suitably qualified artisans to sustain industries and support economic growth within South Africa.

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The focus on artisans’ skills which are in high demand aims to ensure that the Government’s strategic projects will be constructed and maintained using high-quality, South African skilled artisans and that the economy will triumph.  This will simultaneously contribute to job creation and poverty alleviation goals as set out in the National Development Plan 2030.

I believe that our public TVET college system is ideally placed to respond to the call from industry and the state for more skilled artisans. TVET colleges are now able to train skilled artisans and work with industry partners with the opportunity to develop sites of good practice which others can eventually follow.

However, society’s confidence in the TVET sector must change. Evidence of that change will be TVETs becoming both institutions of choice for students and partners of choice in training for industry employers. The provision of fully subsided, free further education and training was extended this year to all current and future poor and working-class South African students at all public TVET colleges. These students will be funded by grants, and not loans.

All stakeholders need to come together to rebrand and reposition TVET colleges into world-class and state-of-the art facilities that can produce the much-needed skills that our country needs.

It is important to change the mindsets of the youth, parents and educators who see vocational training as blue-collar education. Artisans play a vital role in South Africa’s future development, and more must be done to increase the academic opportunities for students who choose this path.

Melanie Mulholland is the Human Capital & Skills Development Executive at the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa.

Turning Perceptions – Creating the perfect fit

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Turning Perceptions – Creating the perfect fit

Tsakani Mukhari inspires as the First Female Training Consultant at the SEIFSA Training Centre in Benoni.

Have you ever thought of changing your career to follow your passion? If only you had time?

The SEIFSA Training Centre’s Tsakani Mukhari, has made the time. Tsakani is a 36 year old mother from the outskirts of Limpopo who has taken the jump and landed on the stepping stone of her future. She has become the inspirational story for her family and friends by becoming an Artisan and launching her successful career in the industry. The SEIFSA Training Centre is proud to have played a part in her rise.

In the early 2000’s, Tsakani moved to Gauteng to complete her National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering at the Tshwane University of Technology. In order to make ends meet her journey after University began as a Boom-Gate officer and as a cleaner in Pretoria. One day seemed to blur into the next. With very little motivation, she applied for various Mechanical Technician positions. Armed only with a National Senior Certificate from Nwamalobye High School and her National Diploma, Tsakani realised that in order to reach her full potential, she would have to complete her N3 certificate in Mechanical Engineering to make herself more competitive in the job market. With her goal on the horizon, she stayed focused and started an apprenticeship for a company associated with the SEIFSA Training Centre, where she was sent as a student to complete her Artisanship in 2012. Finally, Tsakani’s future had started to come together and the dream of becoming an Engineer and making her late father proud seemed to becoming closer by the day. “I will never look back after being a student at the SEIFSA Training Centre, and I encourage people of all different backgrounds to join,” said Tsakani. Four years later, she is a qualified Fitter and Turner, holds an N3 Certificate in Mechanical Engineering and has a Semi-Skilled Certificate in tool, jig and die-making. Above all, Tsakani was awarded Best Female Student in 2012. Today, she is the SEIFSA Training Centre’s first female Training Consultant.  The Centre’s Director Desmond Uithaler says “Even with such a great achievement to her name, Tsakani continues to aim high”.

Get on the Artisan career path today


The SEIFSA Training Centre allows for, “a positive learning experience”, explained Tsakani. “Although the work is challenging at times, the confidence in my work and in myself has grown”. Some of her daily responsibilities include: intensive research, preparing monthly schedules for her classes; and conducting both theoretical and practical examinations completed by her students. Whilst her duties at the Centre keep her extremely busy, Tsakani is also currently completing her Bachelor of Technology (B Tech) in Mechanical Engineering, in hopes to one day become a qualified Mechanical Engineer. In addition to all of this, Tsakani wishes to pursue a career in Project Management and Operations by using her flair for scheduling and processes.

Tsakani is part of the rise of the female artisan around the world and the SEIFSA Training Centre currently has more than 40 female students training to become Electricians, Fitters, Turners and Boilermakers. Tsakani’s years of experience in the industry as a student and now as a training consultant, tells potential female artisans to, “Stay focused and do it with passion”.

The demand for artisans is growing with every day. Yet, there is a shortage of artisans in South Africa. Since woman make up 51% of the South African population, younger woman should consider joining the industry to alleviate the chronic unemployment problem. Future artisans, especially women should know that there is a vast spectrum of possibilities in the industry and anyone with an open mind-set can achieve success if they grab the opportunity with both hands just as Tsakani has done.

From cleaning offices at a local police station to becoming SEIFSA Training Centre’s first female instructor, Tsakani is a stellar example for others with similar aspirations.  Clearly, the world is her oyster and we, at SEIFSA, cannot wait to see her next move.

Trisha Itchu

Marketing Intern

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South Africa Should Pay More Attention to Apprenticeships

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South Africa Should Pay More Attention To Apprenticeships In Order To Reduce The High Levels Of Unemployment, Argues Melanie Mulholland

Apprenticeships in South Africa are growing concern. Not only is promoting them a problem, but the challenge becomes complicated when trying to reverse public perception that a tertiary education from university will provide for a stable financial future.

Then there’s the business complaint about a skills gap that threatens productivity and growth. This concern is not only limited to individual companies, but the economy as a whole is affected because of inability to recruit employees with the correct skills.

Apprenticeships are one initiative that can narrow the skills gap. In European countries like Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, apprenticeships are a critical part of an advanced education system. Most individuals opt to complete an apprenticeship qualification in addition to a university degree. It is not uncommon for Dutch, German or Swiss post-secondary institutions to require students to complete an apprenticeship before enrolling in a tertiary education programme. In this way, apprenticeships form an integral part of the education continuum, including engineering and a myriad of other professional vocations.

In South Africa, apprenticeships are yet to be recognized as the optimal career choice. This is despite the fact that we desperately need more highly-qualified apprentices to narrow the skills gap.

Contrary to popular belief, it is the brightest students that are needed. Apprenticeships are formal, on-the-job training mechanisms through which an apprentice learns a trade or vocation under the guidance of a Master Artisan in the workplace. Apprenticeships include part-theoretical classroom instruction for math, science, engineering drawing and trade theory, in addition to hands-on practical experience. Classroom instruction can take place at the work site or at public and private colleges.

Apprenticeships provide valuable skills and pathways for young people into the world of work, hence it’s important that they are accessible and are of the highest quality possible. They should not be considered as being less important as a training and development mechanism.

Similarly, it is seen as a mechanism for transferring skills from generation to generation. Apprentices participate in tangible industrious activities from day one. The alignment between theoretical and practical learning improves mastery and acquaints the apprentices with the challenges that arise in the workplace. This provides opportunities to cultivate critical thinking skills in ways that the contrived classroom environment does not. More importantly, in the workplace apprentices learn not just how to use a piece of equipment, but also how to maintain and repair it. This rarely occurs in the traditional classroom setting.

Quite practically, an apprentice’s learning is work and vice versa, which is why it works.

Get on the Artisan career path today


Improving access to quality apprenticeships and other forms of work-based learning programs remains a challenge in South Africa. This is not just an issue of cost, but also one of focusing on underpinning transformation among those groups that are under-represented. Women are often over-looked because some trades are seen to be dominated by men. A person with disabilities also faces greater barriers since there is a stigma associated with accommodating them in the workplace and there is a concern about cost to make workplaces habitable to such individuals.

These days many international organizations such as the International Labour Organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Monetary Fund encourage countries to expand apprenticeship training. The G20 has also attached a high priority to expanding apprenticeships for youth. Another good reason for focusing on apprenticeship training is that youth unemployment rates are lowest in countries, such as Germany and Switzerland, where the number of apprenticeships is high.

South Africa, too, can benefit. The country urgently needs to enhance the image of, and increase public investment in, apprenticeships. This is likely to reduce the enormous gaps in funding for the university/university of technology-bound students when compared to funding for young people who prefer work-based learning. For apprentices, it would widen opportunities for rewarding careers as well as increase the economic mobility and engagement of young people who drift aimlessly through formal education systems becoming NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training). It will give our youth pride in what they do, both in mastering an occupation and in their confidence that they have learnt to implement their skills and knowledge. We have passed the point where an academic-only strategy works. It’s overrated in our diverse population demographic, not to mention an already struggling labour market.

Finally, there is no doubt that apprenticeships can play a far more constructive role in efficiently enabling individuals. They support trade in a variant of fields across numerous sectors and industries.

Melanie Mulholland is the Human Capital and Skills Development Executive of the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa

For any company indenturing apprentices, there are several advantages:

(skills, cost,recruits, reputation )


  • Supply of labour with the necessary skills that were otherwise difficult to find;
  • Lower recruitment and training costs, which are high when hiring external workers;
  • Control over skills shortages
  • An available pool of potential recruits at all levels of the company;
  • Lower employee turnover and commitment to the company by apprentices;
  • Enhance reputation of the company both within the industry and community.

Get on the Artisan career path today

STC Article Image 02

SEIFSA Leads Development Processes

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SEIFSA Leads Development Processes for the New QCTO Occupational Trade Qualifications.

SEIFSA as the leader in the Centres of Specialisation DHET Project is inviting  Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from Industry to participate in the National Occupational Curriculum Content (NOCCs) Curricula and Syllabi development processes for the new QCTO occupational trade qualifications.

 This is a unique opportunity for Industry to shape the curricula and syllabi, of seven trades, in order to fully meet the dire need for well trained and qualified 21st Century Artisans.

 It is critical that Industry participate in this process in order to ensure that industry shapes the curricula and syllabi for the following trades:

Carpenter and Joiner
Fitter and Turner
Pipe Fitter
Mechanical Fitter

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from Industry who are willing and able to participate in the NOCC’s (National Occupational Curriculum Content) workshops should contact Melanie Mulholland (

The time frame for the roll out is between January and April 2018.

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Artisans of the 21st Century

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Artisans of the 21st century

Melanie Mulholland

Demand-driven apprenticeships are a win-win in increasing the employment prospects of unemployed young people and closing the ever-increasing skills gap, but companies have to enable this process.

South Africa’s youth unemployment is at its lowest level for five years, but there are still major concerns about the long-term job prospects for the young. According to a new report issued by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), South Africa ranks sixth globally in terms of youth unemployment, with a current rate of 52.5%. Vocational interventions, like apprenticeships, are a much-needed solution for South Africa to prevent long-term negative impact.

Participating in apprenticeships is one of the many ways in which employers can acquire and develop the skills they need, while improving the employability of the younger generation.

Employers articulate their skills needs and identify skills mismatches in their respective sectors with the end game of job creation. Employers have to be in the driver’s seat throughout the entire process, from consultation through to trade test implementation, in order to create successful 21st-century artisans.

Such holistic engagement by companies would enable and support quality apprenticeship programmes that address pertinent skills gaps which need to be closed. At the same time, it would support a committed and productive workforce that can add value. This would open up a pool of skills and pathways for new talent into companies, occupations and sectors.

Many employers immediately understand the benefits of taking on apprentices and recover the costs of their investment as early as the second year of the duration of apprenticeships.
Apprenticeships focused on the 21st century consist of three components: a theoretical component, a practical (simulated) component and a workplace learning component. This is a dual apprenticeship model. This mode of delivery combines learning in the workplace with learning at a Technical Vocational and Education College (TVET) in an integrated programme.

This programme is now being referred to as the Artisan of the 21st Century or A21 apprenticeship.

In order to deliver A21 programmes, the involvement of employers is a fundamental pre-requisite. As part of this training, an apprentice undergoes national trade testing at an accredited trade test centre after completion of required theory, practical and workplace training requirements, further certifying them for their skills.

While on qualification and recognition of learning, we need to be cognizant that South Africa has a history of placing a higher value on the academic pathway from school to university. In recent years, it has become more evident that this pathway does not fit everybody and, now more than ever, it is vital that as a country we develop high-quality vocational pathways that acquire the same respect that other educational choices receive. It is often a fact that qualified apprentices often earn more than their university counterparts.

Quality training is a unanimous trait that many employers from various sectors are demanding, especially in the manufacturing and engineering sectors. Businesses are overwhelmingly positive about 21st century apprenticeships and understand that work-based training can, indeed, boost much-needed skills and productivity – as well as the career prospects of young people. While the government is right to turn the spotlight on apprenticeships, I believe it is wrong to focus on numbers put through rather than the quality of apprenticeships.

South Africa’s target, according to the National Development Plan, is to deliver more than 30 000 additional artisans every year until 2024. This target has plenty of associated risks in undermining the combined efforts that are in place to increase the profile of apprenticeships. The focus on achieving this arbitrary figure would lead to a robotic model, where apprenticeships come out of a production line and yet quality suffers. This, in turn, would end up with apprenticeships continuing to be seen as an inferior alternative to attending universities and institutions of technology.

To add to this, apprenticeships are expensive. The best and perhaps only way to encourage companies to take on apprentices is to increase their quality and relevance to business. If the quality is there, then the demand, from both employers and potential apprentices, will naturally follow.

In order to increase the take-up among businesses, the government has to ensure that, when it comes to apprenticeships, the focus is on quality rather than quantity. Only then can we forge a credible alternative to the academic pathway, which businesses and young people can fully buy into.

In addition, at the moment TVETs and accredited training providers offer a network of support for apprentices. Without the right level of support, we risk seeing more young people dropping out of the system. We need to advocate an “earn-while-you-learn” incentive since skilled workers are increasingly in demand.

As part of meeting quality and completion numbers, the youth should not be disillusioned by the minimum requirements and technical aptitude tests. The system should ensure that the right attitude and skills for learning a trade are determined upfront in the recruitment and selection process and that the employer is assured the right candidate will become a 21st-century artisan.

The question, then, is: why should the youth choose an apprenticeship over an academic university pathway? It is evident, especially in manufacturing, that the economy desperately needs 21st-century artisans ranging from welders, electricians, plumbers, riggers, fitters to boilermakers, among many others.  Corporate South Africa, specifically the manufacturing and engineering sectors, have started addressing some of the real challenges around apprenticeships and artisan development to achieve quality artisans for the 21st century.

Without apprenticeships leading to quality artisans, our prospects for a growing economy and meeting the need to provide jobs for the millions of unemployed young people will remain depressing. Apprenticeships and skills are becoming very attractive because of their demand and the high likelihood of getting a job upon completion.

Melanie Mulholland is the Human Capital and Skills Development Executive at SEIFSA, which owns the SEIFSA Training Centre in Benoni.

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SEIFSA Training Awards 2017

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SEIFSA Training Centre gets youth fit and ready for the industry

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) Training Centre recently oversaw the graduation of 40 artisans at its world-class facility in Benoni, South Africa.

The next generation of electricians, fitters, turners, boilermakers, and welders were presented with their certificates on Friday, 1 December 2017 to the joy of their families, sponsors and the Centre’s staff at ceremony held at the world-class facility in Benoni, South Africa.

SEIFSA Training Centre Operations Manager Desmond Uithaler proudly said: “We the have capacity to train 400 candidates per year, hence we can make a significant contribution towards the reduction of the shortage of the 12,500 artisans that South Africa needs on an annual basis”.

The SEIFSA Training Centre provides a steady stream of ready-to-work and skilled graduates for companies such as Rotek, Macsteel, Aberdare and BCE, amongst others.

SEIFSA Training Centre Logo

“This fact goes to the heart of why SEIFSA recognised the vital need to establish the Centre in the first place. Our members are encouraged to find creative ways to bridge the skills gap and source a supply of well-trained young artisans,” said Chief Executive Officer Kaizer Nyatsumba.

The main prize winner on the day was 28-year-old Moses Negoma, who won Best Overall Student as a Fitter and Turner as well as a Certificate of Achievement. Originally from Limpopo, Mr Negoma was supported by BCE Engineering and is now completing his In-Service Training with the company.

Congratulating Mr Negoma on the award, Mr Nyatsumba remarked on the importance of getting young people interested in being artisans: “The average age of an artisan in South Africa is 54, which means that 70 percent of artisans currently employed will retire in the next five to six years. New blood in the industry is absolutely vital for our economy, and that is why we should all be excited about initiatives such as this one. We will certainly be highlighting these achievements to the companies that make up the SEIFSA membership,”   said Mr Nyatsumba.

The occasion was joyous and characterised by music, dancing, comedy and the inspirational words of guest speaker Patrick Metswi, Executive of Human Resources at Murray & Roberts. He emphasized the message of lifelong learning: “View your certificate as a key to unlock future success. Don’t settle for anything, but giving your very best, because that is our measurement. M&R is looking for the very best. Go out and knock on as many doors as possible and don’t give up.

Get on the Artisan career path today