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Would-be students could look to a trade

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Currently the failure rate at universities is sitting around 50%, with many students not suitably prepared for tertiary education. The solution to this dilemma is for youth to consider a career as an artisan, as there is quicker access to full-time employment – with apprentices often getting an apprenticeship with a company in their first year. Critically, this means they also start earning money far sooner.
This is according to Sean Jones, CEO of black empowered Artisan Training Institute (ATI), who adds: “A 50% failure rate at university is far too high, meaning many students are out of their depth.
“If they opt, instead, to enrol for artisan training they will get an apprentice placement with an employer literally from the time of enrolment and earn a stipend, from the employer, from their first year of training. Almost all our learners are assigned to an employer from enrolment stage.”
Frequently, students will study at university for three to four years and, upon graduation, many struggle to obtain gainful employment.  Graduates in many cases earn rock bottom salaries, especially if there is an oversupply of their skill and knowledge offering. Many with degrees who are not absorbed into large corporate companies, end up working in semi-skilled jobs.
Artisans, on the other hand, are almost guaranteed formal employment and, upon graduation can earn R20 000 to R25 000 per month. That’s more than most university graduates will earn, says Jones.
“The economy desperately needs these mid-level skills – artisans are a vital cog of the economy,” he adds.
Additionally, becoming an artisan – whether it is as a nurse, baker, electrician, diesel mechanic or tractor technician, is a springboard to other careers in engineering, sales, training, management or entrepreneurship.
Jones says it is a pity that many families eschew the vocational training option, as there is a far greater need for artisans than university graduates.
The irony is that many jobs in the corporate world will simply disappear in the very near future, he adds. But there will always be jobs for artisans.
“Mechanisation coupled with smart production technologies is on the increase. This will lead to a plunge in semi-skilled jobs. It goes deeper than that as innovators are constantly coming out with disruptive technologies including apps, 3D printing solutions, robotics, and nanotechnology as examples, eliminating many occupations.
“Uber has disrupted the marketplace in the taxi industry as an example, even competing strongly with the ‘yellow cabs’ in the US, while 3D printing companies have disrupted, and/or enhanced many traditional manufacturing companies.
“Many occupations, in the near future, will no longer exist – but artisans are the bedrock of the economy, and will always be needed,” Jones adds. “There needs to be a mindset shift in South Africa, both from our educational institutions and the broader population.”