The Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition


By Shaun Benton

The Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) has proved successful in creating partnerships with business, labour and the public sector in mobilising existing skills for economic growth.

At a briefing on JIPSA, presented by Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Alan Hirsch, the lead economist in The Presidency, reporters heard that government policy towards artisan skills development was to be strengthened.

This is to happen through the Draft Skills Development Bill of 2008, while government has published a revised scarce skills list that includes civil, material and chemical engineers.

This list of desired skills is being actively promoted abroad, according to the JIPSA statement.

Meanwhile, JIPSA partners have agreed that the alignment of training routes would consolidate artisan development through four specific artisan training routes: learnerships; apprenticeships; recognition of prior learning and a national vocational certificate.

The latter will include an internship or skills programme, while the National Skills Fund has allocated an additional R300 million for the training of a further 7 350 artisans.

Already, through agreements between government and the private sector, over 18 000 artisans have been registered, while an additional 20 000 artisans are expected to be registered in the 2008-2009 period.

An important element of the artisan training programme – that of quality assurance – is to be overseen by the artisan moderation body, Indlela (“Road”), which will signal the level of necessary skill needed in these various posts to grow the economy.

The international programme is proceeding apace, with international placement programmes providing South Africans with the necessary, international-level skills to assist government's commitment to a better life for all.

An increasing number of young female professionals are receiving international placements, taking government's international partnerships “from strength to strength”.

On the domestic level, the Umsobomvu Youth Fund has made a grant available to enable a further 250 unemployed young people to join the Monyetla programme.

The Monyetla programme is a joint pilot training partnership programme between the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Labour and the Business Trust.

This will help 1 000 young, unemployed people to be trained as call centre agents, which is a growing industry in South Africa with vast potential for job creation and skills upgrading.

Meanwhile, the Siyenze Manje programme – designed to attract retired professionals back to the labour market – has led to 118 highly-skilled professionals being recruited to assist over 100 municipalities with various technical and financial expertise.

While these numbers may seem small, the impact of these skills on the municipalities will greatly assist their ability to proceed with the acceleration of infrastructure and investment programmes.

Overall, JIPSA – which was launched on 27 March 2006 to address the country's skills deficit in a concerted way – is moving forward through international partnerships and private sector partnerships to address the country's skills deficit.

Progress being made so far shows a steady pattern towards achieving the target of halving poverty and unemployment by 2014, which is one year ahead of the Millennium Development Goal deadline of the United Nations, to allow for accurate reporting to the multilateral forum of progress made.

These goals can be achieved if the economy grows by at least 4.5 percent in the period up to 2009, and then by an average of 6 percent in the period from 2010 to 2014.