South Africa's Western Cape has launched an artisan development programme to tackle the shortage of skills in the province and create employment opportunities for young people in the region.
The R5.8-million programme was established in partnership with the private sector, communities, Skills Education Training Authorities (SETAs) and Further Education and Training (FET) colleges.
"The lack of artisans in our region could have a devastating impact on our economy down the line, as artisans play a crucial role in the delivery of services, especially in engineering trades," Western Cape Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Minister Alan Winde said at the launch in Epping, Cape Town on Monday.
"Through this programme, we aim to create a pipeline of qualified artisans who can play a role in growing the emerging sectors of our economy, such as oil and gas."
The pilot phase of the programme this year will provide funding for 200 young people to complete in-service training, to write the National Trade Test and become fully qualified.
It will also fund the training of coaches within 72 partner companies in order to train their interns.
The programme forms part of the government's National Development Plan (NDP), which states that it is activities like artisanship "that provide shock absorbers for extreme poverty and platforms for self-employment" in developing countries.
"The NDP states that to grow the economy and reduce poverty, we need to produce 30 000 artisans a year," Winde said. "The Western Cape government is determined to play its part in realising this national goal."