Each LMIP Briefing is an evidence-based contribution to informing the development of a skills planning mechanism for South Africa. Briefings showcase our cutting edge research and aim to highlight key trends and potential implications from LMIP research projects.

LMIP Briefing 19

Changing knowledge bases at intermediate labour market levels: Drawing out further insights for artisanal work and work preparation

What knowledge and skill does a 21st century artisan need? LMIP researchers considered this question in relation to four interlocking contexts: sector and company futures, workplace culture futures, work futures for artisans/technicians, and artisanal qualification futures. In-depth case studies were conducted across four industry sectors[1]. Here, we focus on the analysis of artisanal qualification futures only.

Three key findings have implications for qualification content and delivery modes:

Finding 1 (common across all four sectors): A range of NQF-registered qualifications but limited provision.Each sector has a range of formal qualifications registered on NQF levels 2-6, but there is little systematic evidence of provision and take-up.

Finding 2 (common across all four sectors): On-the-job training and supplier training the dominant modes of provision. In all four sectors on-the-job training and informal learning remain the dominant modes of education and training, with supplier provided training on specific items of equipment or technology identified as a fast-growing trend.

Finding 3 (common across three  sectors): An initial, industry-specific or aligned qualification is not a requirement for job entry. Two main reasons were offered in explanation: either technical work performance has not been formalised or codified, so there is no qualification development; or, qualifications have been developed and registered on the NQF, but their impact on the development of artisans has been negligible.

The following underlying factors emerged:

- Actual provision occurs on an extremely limited basis or is not deemed of an acceptable quality and standard to be recognised by industry (whether based on historical prejudice or reality-assessed)

- The scope and focus of curricula are not perceived to be adequately aligned to industry needs and requirements

-Accurate classification of a particular trade (to the extent that it is possible) presents an obstacle to qualification development. For example, across the cases it was clear that a range of trade types existed within one recognised occupational classification.

Such valuable insights illustrate the important contribution that a small number of qualitative sector studies can make to skills planning. Cumulative research of this nature could provide an important resource for the interpretation of the macro-trends identified in quantitative model-based projections and/or employer surveys.

[1] Trades in four industry sectors at the cutting edge of local and international product and market growth were selected for investigation, namely Confectionary Baker (681201, Hospitality sector); Boat Builder and Repairer (684907, Boat Building sector); Mechatronics Technician (671203, Engineering sector) and Camera Assistant (Film sector).