What this article covers:
- How to navigate a career as an artisan after school
- Why you should choose a career in trades
We get many queries from school-leavers who are overwhelmed with career prospects and how to navigate choosing a career and understandably so! There are many routes to take and some tend to be longer than others. The important thing to understand when picking a career is to decide on the “why”. Why are you choosing this particular career and what are the requirements for it? Would you need to study at a tertiary institute first? What are the prerequisites?
This article will offer some insight as to how you can go about entering a career in skills especially to those who are fresh out of school or even those considering leaving school sooner.
I’ve matriculated in a non technical high school and want to study a trade, where do I start?
Begin by researching the requirements needed for the trade you are interested in. Some trades require you start with Nated courses which you do at a TVET college. These nated courses, commonly referred to as “N courses” each have about 4 subjects which need to all be passed for you to receive a certificate. Some of the subjects include engineering drawing, engineering science, trade related theory and mathematics. “N courses” range from N1- N6.
The advantage of starting with “N courses” is that you are able to equip yourself with theory knowledge of the trade as well as other subjects linked to it, which allows a deeper understanding of the trade and aids in your problem solving and thinking abilities.
Starting with N1 and N2 as a minimum is definitely recommended as this will allow you to gain clear insight and background knowledge into the respective trade.
If you have a technical metric then you don’t have to do the nated course unless you want to change your trade.
I have my “N” qualification, what now?
Most industries require you to have some sort of experience before considering you for a position. Once you’ve attained your “N” qualification, it would be advisable to seek opportunities to gain some practical experience or to join a training center (like Qualitas Training, www.qualitastraining.co.za) who can teach you the practical parts in relation to your “N”qualification.
Joining a training center to learn practicals will give you an added advantage when volunteering or seeking employment as you would be equipped with the necessary skill set to execute tasks.
At this point you will need to work towards attaining 3 years of experience in the relevant industry in order to qualify as an artisan (on condition that the trade you are studying/pursuing has an ARPL assessment. If there is no ARPL available for the chosen trade then the minimum requirement would be 4 years work experience).
Alternatively you could enter a funded apprenticeship programme which will offer you an opportunity to enter a 3 year programme in which you will qualify after 3 years as these programmes assist in placements.
I do not have the academic means to pursue an N qualification
We get it! Not all of us are cut out for books and words and mathematics and drawing! What is very important to know is that trades are not without theory or modules and there are indeed lots of reading material.
For candidates who get anxious at the thought of books and reading, there is an alternative solution but this will require a bit of a longer journey.
Candidates who cannot pursue an N qualification due to academic challenges can join a training center such as Qualitas who will teach them the chosen trades more practically and verbally but not 100% without theory. The theory will however not be as information heavy and the ratio of theory to practical may be 40:60.
Alternatively candidates may volunteer or seek job opportunities with organizations or companies who are willing to mentor and guide them from scratch.
I have a university degree/diploma, what does this mean?
If you are looking to qualify in a trade, the minimum requirement is for you to have at least 3 years’ work experience in that particular industry you wish to qualify in for as long as that trade has an ARPL assessment as a prerequisite. If it does not then a minimum of 4 years work experience will apply.
This means that any qualification does not exempt you from these requirements nor does it assist in lessening the requirements for a trade test.
For as long as the trade test requirements are a minimum of 3 years’ work experience in the trade you wish to qualify in (with that trade having an ARPL assessment as a requirement) then the previous requirements do not apply. i.e. before, an N6 qualification meant 18 months of workplace experience.
We urge you to read the gazette or trade test regulation for more in depth information and regulations.
- If you are looking to pursue a career in trades after school, you should consider enrolling at a TVET college where you can attain your “N” qualifications, especially N1 and N2.
- If you experience learning difficulties you can enroll in a training center that specializes in trades training.
- You need to gain experience in the relevant trade you wish to qualify in, for a minimum of 3 years in order to apply for a trade test.
- Qualifications do not exempt you from the minimum requirements nor do they bring down this duration.
Why you should consider a career in the trades:
Besides the fact that South Africa is facing an obvious skills shortage and massive brain drain, pursuing a career in skills or trades has many other benefits:
- Trades people are in high demand
- Higher chances of employability
- Immediate self employment opportunities
- Trades people play a very important role in growing the economy.