7-Steps to becoming an Artisan
The implementation of an effective career guidance and management system for trade occupations is essential to ensure that persons wishing to become artisans, especially young people,
fully understand the possibilities, scope and activities of artisans within industry. A system has been implemented to provide information and market artisan careers amongst South Africans
to ensure sufficient entrance of learners into artisan trade occupations.
Effective career guidance ensures that entrants will have made informed career choices and career management will facilitate progression to artisan status and beyond into technician
and engineering related occupations. As part of the career management, a professional registration process to enhance the status of artisans will also be implemented allowing artisan
career development opportunities.
Career guidance will include applicability, aptitude and sustainability which is amongst other things medical examinations since many artisan trades are physically demanding.
This will ensure a maximum throughput for each of the three occupational learning steps – occupational knowledge, practical and workplace. Furthermore if supported by
entrepreneurial and business management skills, qualified artisans are able to start up their own small businesses that could have a large impact on unemployment and job creation.
The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is the coordinating agency for the national artisan advisory and career guidance services, utilizing the Further Education and
Training (FET) Colleges and other partners' infrastructure on a national basis to ensure effective reach and accessibility to all citizens. As the national system is implemented
resources in a variety of media will be developed for each and every artisan trade in South Africa.
Although artisan occupations are primarily focused on hand skills and practical ability, they are supported by a substantial amount of general or vocational or fundamental
knowledge learnt through the basic schooling system or at a vocational college. To ensure effective throughput and success rates within occupational learning, strong fundamental
knowledge is required of subjects such as Mathematics, Science, Drawing and the Technical Language used in the technical working environment.
This fundamental knowledge will prepare the learners for effective learning and mastering of the three occupational learning components which forms part of artisan trade training,
occupational knowledge, practical and workplace training. The more generic fundamental knowledge is delivered at Academic or Focus Schools as well as at Further Education and
Training (FET) Colleges. At present there are numerous options being utilized for this generic, vocational, fundamental knowledge including the National Senior Certificate (Matric)
at traditional learning Academic or Focus Schools, as well as the more technical programmes such as the National Technical Education Certificate (NATED) or National Vocational
Certificate (NCV) at public FET Colleges. More recently a National Adult Senior Certificate (NASCA) has also been released for public comment that offers a further option for this
generic, fundamental knowledge.
At present there is a considerable amount of work in progress with all stakeholders to identify what is the best possible national programme that will allow learners to be best
prepared for all the occupations that have been identified by the National Artisan Moderation Body of the Department of Higher Education and Training as artisan trades.
The outcomes of this process will continually be communicated to all stakeholders, in particular the National Career Advisory Services in order for young people
(and parents in particular) to make informed choices when investing in their career development.
The next step is to becoming a qualified artisan is to find a workplace approved employer that will enter into a learning programme agreement and contract with the learner
after Step 2 (generic or vocational or fundamental knowledge component) has been completed successfully.
The employer will apply an industry specific selection process prior to entering into an agreement and contract with the learner, as the employer will want to ensure that the learners are
fully suited to the industry they want to practise their trade in. Employers are also required to consider national transformation objectives to ensure equity in the workplace as
determined by relevant legislation. The learning programme agreement and contract will be a tripartite agreement between the employer, the learner and accredited training provider.
A relevant SETA facilitates and registers the agreement and contract for the duration of the artisan learning programme.
The conditions of the learning programme agreement and contract are prescribed in the relevant regulations issued by the minister of Higher Education and Training and will include
the agreement duration, completions and termination. They also ensure the protection of a learner under relevant Labour Laws such as the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).
This protection under the Labour Laws is important both to ensure that learners receive an allowance as determined by a Sectoral Determination for Learnerships and Apprenticeships
but also so that learners are protected under Occupational Health and Safety Laws. At present these regulations are known as the Learnerships Regulations but these are in
the process of being amended to become the Learning Programme Regulations.
A critical part of Step 3 is the allocation of funding for artisan learners through Grant Payments from SETAs, which forms an integral part of the Learner Agreement and Contract. At present there is a variety of grant systems and processes in place that has led to considerable confusion and manipulation of artisan training by different stakeholders.
There is also a considerable amount of work in process at present with all stakeholders to standardize and simplify the funding and administration system for artisan learners.
The outcomes of this process will continually be communicated to all stakeholders.
After a learning programme agreement is registered with a relevant SETA and a contract of learning including funding arrangements are in place, the artisan learner now
enters an accredited artisan training centre. The learner then commences with the occupational knowledge and practical learning that is specific to the artisan trade.
This specific trade occupational knowledge and practical component may be offered by the same or different providers that offered the generic or vocational or fundamental knowledge.
This will depend on the accreditation scope of the Skills Development Provider. The specific trade occupational knowledge is contextualized within the learning process to specific
tasks required such as fault finding, manufacturing, repair, services etc.
The occupational trade knowledge may also have components of mathematics, science, drawing and technical language specific to the trade. Such knowledge is applied to the specific trade occupation as the learner learns and applies the knowledge daily in an integrated fashion. The practical learning that accompanies the occupational knowledge learning contextualizes
and applies the trade knowledge component to stimulated situations in practical setting in a training centre.
This ensures that learners are effectively prepared for workplace learning which follows after the occupational knowledge and practical learning process. The occupational knowledge
and practical learning must be offered at an accredited training centre covering the entire scope of an application to the specific trade. This learning is also known as the "off the job"
of learning that is progressively and sequentially taught. This ensures that the artisan learner slowly and systematically gains competencies relevant to his or her trade.
At certain pre-determined stages there are formative assessments applied, previously known as phase tests, to ensure that learners have assimilated the occupational knowledge and practical
skills and can proceed to the next stage. Much of this occupational knowledge and practical learning are simulations of the type of work that the learner will actually engage in once he or
she is finally a qualified artisan.
Real competence in any occupation whether a person can apply and transfer learning at the workplace or across a variety of workplaces. Therefore the most critical component
of learning in artisan development is workplace learning. During the workplace learning process the occupational knowledge and practical learning assimilated during the previous
step are applied in the workplace.
The artisan learner is exposed to real life situations within the workplace including all aspects of the artisan occupation such as work ethics, safety, responsibilities and quality
performance of work required by industry. In all artisan trades this is the most significant and most difficult of the various learning processes and therefore the artisan learner is supported in the workplace by a qualified workplace mentor, previously known as the journeyman.
These workplace mentors are qualified and experienced artisans in the same trade the artisan learner is registered for. In many instances there is a scarcity of these mentors
in the workplace and possible processes are being considered to bring back retired artisans to fulfil the function of a mentor in the workplace. The workplace learning
process known as the "on the job" learning process that allows a learner to progressively and sequentially re-learn what he learnt in the practical learning process but applied in a
During the workplace learning, the leaner must be exposed to the entire scope of the trade as pre-determined by the curriculum of the occupational trade qualification to
ensure that once qualified he or she will fully be competent to become a productive worker in the industry and will only need further specific industry training. Many of the
current workplace learning programmes that exist in industry today are based on historic and often outdated training schedules developed under the Manpower Training Act.
Some programmes have been updated as unit standard based programmes and are now delivered as Learnerships in some sectors. The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations
in collaboration with the National Artisan Moderation Body is progressively updating all these artisan trade workplace programmes to become occupational based curriculum and qualifications.
Once the artisan learner has successfully completed the occupational knowledge, practical and workplace learning, the Skills Development Act requires a learner to undergo an
external final summative assessment also known as a Trade Test before he or she can be certified as a qualified artisan, irrespective of the route or pathway of learning the learner utilized.
All Trade Testing in South Africa will in the near future be regulated by national Trade Test Regulations issued under Section 26D(5) of the Skills Development Act that are applicable
to all Trade Test Centres whether they are operated by private, government or state owned companies. These national, decentralized trade test centres must be accredited by the
Quality Council for Trades and Occupations before they will be allowed to conduct national trade tests. The national trade test includes practical tasks that a learner must
complete within a specified periods of time as determined by the National Artisan Moderation Body or NAMB.
In addition all trade testing processes will be monitored and moderated by the National Artisan Moderation Body (NAMB) as required by Section 26A(2) of the Skills Development Act.
The national trade testing system is also being built to include a customized artisan development aligned Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) system that will offer persons who have assimilated
knowledge and skills related to an artisan trade through workplace activities to also enter a well-supported process that will result in access to a national trade test.
To ensure that trade testing is always relevant to the needs of the industry and to ensure that learners achieve competent artisan status, all artisan trade testing or assessment practitioners
including assessors, assessment tool designers and moderators will be registered by the NAMB and be subject to continuous and regular capacity building through re-skilling processes.
All accredited trade test centres will report to the NAMB as per pre-determined requirements to enable the NAMB to monitor their performance. In this sense the NAMB will act as an "ombudsman"
for artisan development and any concern with regards to the quality of artisan development may be reported to the NAMB.
Quality assurance will be built into each and every step of the national 7-Step Programme. It is therefore not an isolated activity focusing on the final external summative assessment
or trade testing only, but is implemented right form the qualification development, learner selection, accreditation and delivery processes.
The current practice whereby a range of sector based trade certificates are issued in South Africa has been phased out and the Development through the National Artisan Moderation Body
under delegation from the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations will ensure that only national artisan trade certificates are issued.