What are your skills?

Skills shortages remain a concern

Vacancies are left unfilled due to lack of skilled labour
No skilled manufacturers

This was the cold truth delivered by Dirk van Dyk, CEO of the National Tooling Initiative (NTIP), at this year’s Afrimold Conference and Exhibition. "The future of global manufacturing is turning into a competition for global talent. South Africa is in a situation where a lack of skills is adding to the already distressed manufacturing sector, which has grown by just over two percent in five years.

The manufacturing sector is the second largest contributor to GDP in South Africa and the NTIP intended working with the government to regain some of what has been lost. South Africa suffers a critical skills shortage despite a high unemployment rate. The country’s emerging economy therefore needs to take a hard look at all aspects of its manufacturing capabilities, in all areas there is an urgent need for a step change in our approach to managing and growing these capabilities” said van Dyk.  

Dalene Seymore, national programme manager for the Tool Die and Mouldmaking Skills (TDM) programme, said the Tool Making Association of South Africa (TASA) and the Department of Trade and Industry have been working closely on the TDM Empowered Programme – a skills development programme aimed at countering skills erosion and job losses hampering the TDM sector. 

Both Seymore and Van Dyk said the TDM programme plans to skill about 3 600 students by 2015.  The 2010 Foundation Level intake (175 students) achieved an 82% retention rate, the 2011 intake (160 students) attained a 73% retention rate and the 2011 Apprenticeship Level I (490 students) realised an impressive 87% retention rate.

“This changing environment requires a more diverse skills set from engineers, technicians and artisans,” says Van Dyk.

Van Dyk says the sector needs to focus on the early attraction of talent as required by every manufacturing discipline. This will ensure the sector’s successful development of the required skills for future growth and competitiveness.

“Without a critical examination and an innovative approach to future skills development in the manufacturing sector, the closing of the skills gap is unlikely and significant growth and global competitiveness will remain a pipedream,” says Van Dyk.

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