LMI programme > Briefings

History and the economy matters for artisanal skills planning

Date posted:


Publication year:


Corporate author/s:

Labour Market Intelligence Partnership (LMIP), Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)

Person/s author/s:

Wildschut, Angelique, Mbatha, Nhlanhla


briefing or fact sheet



The re-establishment of a good artisan training system was identified as a key research focus area and urgent priority, given that 'the apprenticeship system has been allowed to deteriorate since the mid-1980s, resulting in a shortage of mid-level skills in the engineering and construction fields' (DHET, 2013). However, over the last three decades, there have been extensive changes to the nature of work, meaning that any planning activities and interventions aimed at improving the production and retention of artisanal skills have to be sensitive to such change. In addition, our country has a complex history of technical, vocational education and training (TVET), characterised by gender, race and language inequalities. Clearly, a better understanding of the contextual issues that impact on the extent, nature and location of demand and supply of artisanal skills can positively impact on planning and intervention. Critical questions to direct such an endeavour would thus be: how have historical patterns shaped the nature of artisanal training and employment today? How can planning for artisanal skills respond to the changing nature of work and the division of labour in the workplace? How can planning be responsive to innovation and change? Towards better understanding such a complex and multi-layered context and the questions emerging from it, three projects investigated: the underpinning economic and political history (Mbatha et al 2015), changes to the nature of artisanal work and its organisation (Wildschut et al 2015), changing intermediate knowledge bases and the resulting implications for future artisanal work and preparation (Gamble et al, 2015).

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