Apprentice’s trade test future uncertain

THE trend of our region’s youngsters being unable to further themselves despite going through the higher education system appears to be a common one.

While it has previously been reported that college graduates do not hold the correct qualifications to further themselves via a university of technology, this story relates to an apprentice who has completed his required four year apprenticeship yet cannot take his trade test.

Registered under the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (MERSETA), the Mtubatuba apprentice who asked to remain anonymous entered into an apprenticeship contract in 2012 as an automotive assembler.

Through no fault of his own, the apprentice was unable to do undergo his trade test after completing the four year apprenticeship, effectively stagnating his career.

Investigations revealed the lack of an accredited testing centre, together with an accredited invigilator, throughout the whole of South Africa.

‘We were told that there is a training centre in Mandeni, which is ‘in moth balls’, and they think they should look into reopening it,’ the apprentice said.

In the meantime, his boss was able to extend his contract by another year but, four months into the new year, there is still no progress on the trade test front.

Moreover, his boss went to the trouble and extra cost of bringing the workshop up to trade test standards and arranging the accreditation of three employees, to no avail.

‘The MERSETA no longer quality assures trades, this responsibility now resides with NAMB, the National Artisan Moderations Body,’ said Herman Oosthuizen, Client Liaison Officer at the KZN regional MERSETA office in Durban.

NAMB has done away with the practise of apprentices undertaking their trade tests at their place of work, meaning it is now mandatory for such tests to be done at an accredited NAMB training centre.

‘Both the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) and NAMB were established when the old Manpower Act was repealed and replaced with the Skills Development Act,’ said Oosthuizen.

He also said that, once an apprentice’s contract has expired, there are alternative applications that can be made for the apprentice to undergo a trade test.

The office has agreed to escalate this case to the MERSETA Senior Quality Manager.


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Tamlyn Jolly

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