The importance of extending the reach of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and increasing the quality and quantity of artisans is clearly recognised by the South African government. has attempted to enhance the system through better planning, setting up targets to measure and monitor entry into and output from the artisanal training system. Traditionally, artisanal skills planning has tended to concentrate on determining numerical targets, but there is growing evidence that such an approach is not sufficient.
We lack clarity on the nature of skills required. How many artisans exactly are needed, in which areas, at what levels and in which configurations? Our lack of clarity around the nature of demand is exacerbated by confusion around the nature of the supply of artisanal skills. There is still confusion in relation to the routes to artisanal skilling, and the size of the contribution through different routes. There is poor understanding of the issues underlying quality and success in the production of qualified artisans. More significantly, over the last three decades, there have been extensive changes to the nature of work, technology increasingly impacts and new fields of practice are emerging. How can we plan for artisanal skills in these shifting occupational contexts? In addition, how do we take into account the country’s complex history of VET, characterised by racial and gender inequalities?
This policy roundtable will create a space for engagement on the complex contexts of artisan skills supply and demand, in the light of current initiatives to improve data and metrics. The roundtable provides a platform for stakeholders to address two critical constraints to planning for artisanal skills in the future:
1. Understanding the context
Stakeholders will share research, data and knowledge on the distinct characteristics constituting the current artisanal occupational milieus in terms of the location of artisanal work, its organisation, its knowledge bases and how this relates to training practices.
2. Improving data on artisans
Stakeholders will share research, data and knowledge on the extent and nature of current approaches and methodological initiatives to create better data on the supply of and demand for artisanal skills, and identify the gaps that remain.
Taken together, discussion around these two themes should address the critical policy question – how can we plan for artisanal skills in shifting occupational contexts?