The KwaMpumuza Skills Development Centre in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, is set to create about 175 job opportunities to assist in alleviating unemployment faced by the country.

Higher Education and Training Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, officiated the sod turning to mark the construction of Phase 1 of the centre during a ceremony held on Friday.

The R105 million project is the first intra-SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) collaboration infrastructure project undertaken by the Construction Education & Training Authority (CETA) and Wholesale and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority (W&RSETA).

The project will benefit the community of Vulindlela and rural communities in the surrounding areas, particularly the youth.

Speaking during the ceremony, Nzimande said the building of KwaMpumuza Skills Development Centre proves that government is committed to skills and infrastructure development, with a particular focus on young people.

He said with the construction of the centre, he sees many possibilities, including the value chain from agriculture to retail. 

“This project will spur and become an anchor for this rural community development from different facets,” Nzimande said.

The centre will have administration, hospitality and retail hubs; two CETA related workshops; lecture halls; an abattoir and gatehouse.

Amongst the skills development courses to be offered are agroprocessing (meat processing and feed load management); brick laying; aircon and refrigeration; electrical; painting, and decorating.

It will also offer plumbing; heat pump; carpentry and joinery; property maintenance; geyser installation; road maintenance, and retail related trades, 

The centre will further offer hair dressing; restaurant management; spa/massage parlour and beauty management courses.

Nzimande said the department, through the work of SETAs and all stakeholders involved, is marking yet another gain in the achievement of National Skills Development Plan (NSDP).

He said the National Skills Development Plan is aimed at supporting the growth of the public college system as one of the key solutions to the country’s skills challenges.

Similarly, the Minister said, the goal of the NSDP is to provide access to critical skills to as many people as possible.

“This construction of this centre will greatly benefit the work of our Decade of the Artisan programme, which is headed by the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, whose goal is to produce 30 000 artisans annually by 2030. 

“The programme is in line with the goal of government’s National Development Plan, which has recognised the importance of investing in artisan programmes to grow our economy,” Nzimande said. 

The Minister said skills development centres are a bridge between main campuses of post-school learning opportunities, which are currently located in bigger towns and cities.

“The skills development centres are located within rural and townships communities in the main, thereby widening access to skills, learning and training opportunities, especially for our unemployed youth.

“It is also important that these facilities are used optimally to benefit as many as possible; hence importance for CETs (Community Education and Training) programmes also to be run at this centre. 

“CET colleges are important in addressing the high unemployment rate among young people, which has become a time ticking bomb if not attended to urgently,” Nzimande said.

It is cool to be an artisan

Nzimande also used the occasion to encourage youth to enrol in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, reiterating that “it is cool to be an artisan”. 

Nzimande highlighted some the benefits of enrolling in TVET colleges, including practical skills to prepare students for the workplace and to empower them to create jobs.

“You will complete your studies with theoretical and practical skills that will prepare you for the world of work. You will leave the college with skills that employers are looking for. TVET colleges produce highly employable graduates, as research has shown. 

“There are many employment opportunities for artisans, and most importantly, to create your own jobs,” Nzimande said.