World skills South Africa Conference

Written by: Andrea Naicker

To create a fruitful economy and a prosperous nation, it is essential that we invest in the skills development of citizens. The right skills empower South Africans to reach their full potential and build a sustainable, resilient economy.

Our nation’s skills development is charted by the National Skills Development Plan which prioritises improving education and training. It sets forth specific targets such as the training of 30 000 artisans annually by 2030. 

In propelling us towards achieving these targets, South Africa participated in the recent 5th   

World Skills Conference which sought to promote artisans and develop critical skills that build our economy.

This year’s conference was convened under the theme “Skills change lives” and was attended by over 6 000 learners, unemployed youth and approximately 500 delegates. The conference helped empower young people on the skills they needed for employment and to access economic opportunities. 

Participating in the World Skills Conference helps us achieve our National Development Plan goals of reducing inequality and eliminating poverty by working towards tackling the challenge of youth unemployment through skills development, especially those scarce skills that our country needs. 

The highlight of the conference was the biennial national competition which saw students compete in over 20 different skills sets, including scarce skills such as robotics, electrical, welding and aircraft maintenance.

The development of skills in these areas will help reduce the shortage of critical skills in our nation. It has recently been revealed that there is a pressing need for more engineers, technicians, IT experts and science educators in the country. 

As young people develop these skills and tap into areas that hold economic potential, it will boost our nation’s economic growth and subsequently present South Africa as an even greater investment destination. 

The winners of the national competition, within the various skillsets, will represent South Africa in the World Skills International competition that is set to take place in Lyon, France in September this year. South Africa’s participation in this global event not only showcases the talent and skills of our nation but also exposes us to international best practice. 

We are pleased with the participation of youth in these skills development initiatives and encourage our young people to take hold of the opportunities available. The majority of the competitors that participated in the World Skills South Africa Conference came from our Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

Through our TVET colleges we aim to produce 20 000 artisans per annum and collaborate with the private sector to place these young people in workplaces so they can acquire the relevant work experience. These colleges are also gaining ground in fostering a new generation of artisans, apprenticeships and even entrepreneurs to arise in our country.

To take us forward in upskilling the youth of our country, government has launched the National Plan for Post-School Education and Training (NPPSET) to address our skills imbalance. The NPPSET transforms post-school education and training to create a workforce to help us meet the skills our economy requires.

We encourage young South Africans to take hold of the various avenues for developing their skills, as we seek to create a brighter future and a flourishing economy. 


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