Through the South African Department of Roads and Public Works’ skills development programme, 59 artisans successfully completed their apprenticeship and obtained work opportunities in the private sector, specifically in mining.
The Phakamile Mabija Apprenticeship Programme is a sub-programme within the National Youth Service Programme (NYS) attempting to tackle the scarce skills shortage. It stems from South Africa’s Expanded Public Works Programmes (EPWP)’s focus to alleviate poverty by way of job creation through training and development.
In the Northern Cape, the Artisan Training Institute (ATI) has pledged its full support to the programme.
Sean Jones, managing director of ATI, explained: “The Phakamile Mabija programme is an excellent case study for how public-private partnerships (PPPs) can go beyond infrastructure development to ensure that young people have skills and obtain jobs.”
The apprenticeship programme is aimed at youth between the ages of 18 and 35 years. It includes trades such as electrical, mechanical, boiler-making and fitting and turning.
Apprenticeship programme’s success
Since the Northern Cape Department of Roads and Public Works commenced with the programme in 2007, several long-term partnerships have been formed with, amongst others, the De Beers’ technical training campus, Afrisam, Sishen Mine, Kimberley Engineering Works, Kimberley Ekapa Mining and Blackrock Mine.
Since 2015 the long-standing public-private partnership produced qualified artisans of high training standard.
In June 2019, ATI purchased the De Beers’ technical training campus in Kimberley in a transaction that is bringing new economic activity to the Northern Cape province.
One of ATI’s commitments during the acquisition was partnering with the government to create new pathways for youth to enter the job market through technical training.
“Although we are a private training provider, our commitment to the Phakamile Mabija Apprenticeship Programme and our relationship with the Northern Cape Department of Roads and Public Works remains as strong as ever. We are delighted to be supporting the programme, specifically because of the remarkable results it has achieved in the past,” says Jones.
According to Colleen Denysschen, assistant director of the programme, the former De Beers training facility has been developed into a training establishment of excellence over the years, with a proud record of no lost-time injuries and an ISO 9001/2008 certification.
“We look forward to continue our engagement with ATI to sustain and uphold the success of the Phakamile Mabija Apprenticeship Programme,” says Denysschen.
She added: “Long-term joint ventures between the private sector and Government provide numerous spin-offs and will contribute to the gross domestic product of the Northern Cape Province. This kind of working relationship creates a thriving culture allowing for growth, development and success.”
Empowering young women in the Northern Cape
A specific focus of the programme is women empowerment. The 2018 intake included only women learners. A total of 25 learners from all five districts in the Northern Cape enrolled and successfully completed Phase 1 of the programme in 2019.
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In 2017, the programme received an Award of Excellence for youth development training at the 19th National Public Sector Trainers’ Forum. The Forum was established in 1997 as a non-statutory body to advocate for Human Resource (HR) development in the public sector. The Northern Cape Department of Roads and Public Works excelled among South Africa’s nine provinces to scoop up the award.
Against this backdrop, the Department will continue to focus on youth empowerment in line with the Department of Higher Education and Training’s Decade of the Artisan Campaign launched in 2014.