The number of unqualified “plumbers”1 working in South Africa’s plumbing industry has increased substantially. About 86.8% or 97 0002 self-identified plumbers in the industry are unqualified, which has had significant implications for business sustainability, the perceived level of skill in the industry, and the effective delivery of water and sanitation systems. The personal-professional development of unqualified plumbers is affected by this. The lack of a plumbing qualification prevents plumbers from gaining new skills in plumbing technology and green plumbing services, and from earning more income, either from increasing prices or switching to better-paying employers.
The aim of this policy brief is to quantify the extent of unqualified plumbers in South Africa and to provide insights into how the Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning (ARPL) model can assist with integrating skilled craftspeople into a recognised trade qualification, which can ultimately lead to career mobility and decent work in formal employment. A focus on ARPL can also be used as a tool to support transformation of the plumbing industry, and the education and training system in general. The brief also makes recommendations around the limitations of the ARPL model and alternatives to improve outcomes for skilled, but unqualified plumbers.
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Policy Brief by
POLICY BRIEF: 7/2022