Jacob Mamabolo. Picture: THE SOWETAN
Jacob Mamabolo. Picture: THE SOWETAN

We need more artisans. This was the sentiment expressed by Gauteng infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo‚ speaking alongside Deputy Minister of Higher Education Buti Manamela on Thursday.

The two said society needed to do away with the mindset that artisan jobs were less important‚ as their skills were in demand in SA at the moment. They also urged people to enrol in colleges‚ irrespective of their ages.

Manamela argued that artisan jobs were regarded as having less prestige because one got one’s hands dirty, but he said this idea needed to be done away with as there were many benefits of this kind of work — including good salaries: "Artisans are better paid than some of us in suits and ties." Artisans include carpenters‚ electricians‚ mechanics and technicians.

According to Bethuel Netshiswinzhe‚ head of the infrastructure department‚ the average entry salary of an artisan was R199‚000 a year in his department; it is R368‚000 a year at Eskom.

Netshiswinzhe‚ Manamela and Mamabolo were speaking at the Moses Kotane Institute skills centre programme‚ launched at George Tabor Campus Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College‚ Soweto.

Mamabolo said the reason for launching the initiative this month was also to honour and celebrate the centenaries of struggle heroes Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu.

Mamabolo said he was excited and confident the programme was going to deal with the scourge of unemployment in SA‚ while also expressing discontent at the high number of graduates who stand at traffic lights holding placards asking for employment.

"The programme must be a home for the youth and graduates. It will give practical and workplace experience while also helping them get job placement."

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) was appointed manager of the programme to ensure the courses offered will be aligned to the needs of the market.

A representative from the Kotane family said it was an honour to name the centre after struggle icon Moses Kotane.