Solutions to South Africa’s plumbing skills shortage

17 Sep 2015 1:24 PM | Anonymous

The Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) offers up thoughts on what needs to be done to close the skills gap in South Africa.

After travelling across South Africa, and talking to plumbers as well as manufacturers and suppliers, it is clear to see that there is an obvious skills shortage in South Africa. This is not news, but the shortage has negatively impacted the construction sector, and consequences are now being seen with even more devastating implications. 

Poor quality installations and non-compliance to industry standards is resulting in failure of products, failing infrastructure, growing non-compliant industry, and poor health and safety for all.

What is perhaps the scariest reality is that companies within the business sector are attempting to solve the skills shortage individually to minimise the impact on their businesses. Although this is a positive thing, the challenge that this creates is that it is a short-term fix and not a long-term solution. ‘If a farmer sees an unhealthy tree, they don’t look at the branches to diagnose it; they look at the root.’

 Gary Macnamara, executive director of IOPSA.

Gary Macnamara, executive director of IOPSA. 

We need to understand what the industry is doing to resolve this crisis and then align with these solutions, to achieve a common goal: ‘Skilled artisans’.

The industry has been working hard to develop the new apprenticeship qualification under the new Qualifications Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) framework which will solve the formal education from top down.

The Institute will also be focussing on the following areas which will reduce the skills gap in the industry

  • Coordinating the training efforts of all;
  • An overall plan to deliver projects which include the ‘on the job’ aspect is critical to the creation of skills. The output quality of artisans is dependent on increasing the quality of ‘on the job’ part of our training system;
  • Uplifting training colleges (facilities, facilitators and training material) and the alignment of public and private training providers;
  • Continued funding for training, which is critical and must be addressed; and
  • An apprentice programme to close the gap between employment market and skills required in the plumbing industry, including quality assurance of training and skills.

Industry members need to come together to solve the skills shortages that are sustainable. IOPSA will strive to support manufacturers’ initiatives to train installers relating to specific products and new technologies within the correct framework.



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