World Skills International is a non-profit membership association open to bodies and institutions with a responsibility to promote vocational education and training in their respective regions. During its existence of 60 years, World Skills International has become known for its excellence in promoting vocational skills and training.

The Department of Higher Education and Training has placed major emphasis on artisan training and has played a prominent role in promoting world-class vocational skills programmes and projects throughout South Africa. As a result, TVET colleges have been identified as institutions which take the lead in facilitating these skills programmes and projects through partnerships and networks.

The World Skills vocational education event took place in São Paulo, Brazil, from 11 to 16 August this year. It hosted more than 60 countries/regions, and involved more than a thousand competitors and over a thousand experts, as well as educational, government and industry leaders.

To prepare and showcase their workmanship and standards for this international competition, several colleges competed in the regional round of the World Skills South Africa competition prior to the international competition. Competitors gathered at the Thornton campus of College of Cape Town to compete in the Western Province Plumbing and Heating Competition. This competition was followed by an impressive prize giving ceremony for parents, guest sponsors and industry partners.

Three Public TVET Colleges – Boland College; College of Cape Town and Northlink College – entered six contestants in the provisional competition. The six competitors were put through a rigorous test project which was closely aligned to the standards of the World Skills International Competition. The goal of the competition was to complete three assigned tasks during an allocated five hours. The candidates were expected to install different types of pipe materials to exact specifications as provided. The three tasks that had to be completed were: Task 1 – pipe assembly for water reticulation: cutting, threading and assembling galvanised mild steel (GMS) pipe work; Task 2 – pipe assembly for water reticulation: cutting, bending and assembling copper pipe work; Task 3 – joining metals: marking out and cutting sheet metal.

Ryan Marsh of Boland College, who has been identified as the national expert for plumbing and heating and who was the primary organiser of the event, was impressed and excited by the co-operation and support received from the three partnering TVET colleges and from industry partners. He is confident that in future more colleges and trade partners will participate and work together and that this would secure the sustainability of future initiatives.

Ruan-Truter_Boland-College-World-SkillsThe first prize was awarded to Gladwin Garthwaite (College of Cape Town), the second prize to Siyabonga Makhathini (Northlink College) and the third prize to Ruan Truter (Boland College). The judges were impressed by the competitors’ work, especially in view of the time constraints which applied. The standard of the work displayed was impressive and bodes well for future competitors.

The competition is valuable, not only in view of recognition for outstanding achievement, but also as evidence of the high standard of education at each institution.

The Deputy Minister of the Department of Higher Education and Training, Mr Manana, recently shared his vision to see more youth interested and enrolling in vocational colleges, which would contribute to the general economic growth and decline in skills shortages and unemployment rates. Manana also stated that he views the World Skills competition as a valuable platform for the youth to display their talents. “Our youth needs to start to believe that ‘it’s cool to be a 21st century artisan’ in South Africa,” the Deputy Minister added.

We congratulate the Boland College contestants and also the lecturers to whom we entrusted the teaching of these young and vibrant future artisans and we eagerly look forward to see how Boland College students will fare at the next World Skills competition.