||Skills for Infrastructure Delivery in South Africa: The Challenge of Restoring the Skills Pipeline |
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The South African construction industry is just coming out of a significant phase of decline that has seen limited investment in human capital development and the migration of available skills, leading to shortages of skills in the industry. The announcement of a large government infrastructure spending programme in 2005, such as the construction of the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link and provision of infrastructure for the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup, have highlighted the skills shortages, and necessitated timely interventions to ensure the delivery of a number of infrastructure development projects.
In response to this need, the cidb, in conjunction with the National Department of Public Works, commissioned a project to quantify the skills currently available in the construction industry, estimate the anticipated skills required to meet this ambitious investment programme and lastly, estimate the shortfall and identify interventions for addressing the skills problem. This skills report is intended to portray the state of skills in the industry, identify the skills provisioning challenges and mobilise the industry to contribute to skills development. Many organisations, government departments, state owned enterprises and private sector clients contributed to, and helped steer the investigation.
The report firstly quantifies the skills categories and numbers required to meet the projected infrastructure investment. It concludes that there will be a shortage of high level skills that require long periods of time to develop to the requisite competence levels, but can be sourced on the international market. It further paints a picture of an industry lacking in intermediate artisan skills that can be developed rapidly given significant investments and workplace exposure. The traditional pathways used for the development of artisan and engineering skills in South Africa are then described, and the report concludes that there has been a significant breakdown in the skills development pipeline. It provides for short-term interventions to meet the current challenge and medium- to long-term solutions to re-establish the pipeline. The skills report lastly makes recommendations on the establishment of sustainable pathways to facilitate the development of a pool of construction expertise, and identifies the key role-players responsible for taking these forward.
The cidb, in partnership with key stakeholders, is facilitating that the recommendations are taken forward. It is hoped that this report will make a significant and positive contribution to the body of knowledge and debate on the skills supply in the built environment in South Africa.