In South Africa, there is an even greater need for experienced and qualified artisans.
In South Africa, there is an even greater need for experienced and qualified artisans.

Why a career in trade might just be the right fit for you

By MaryAnne Isaac Time of article published Feb 24, 2021

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These days, most young people are drawn towards a career in medicine, engineering or IT – as these are regarded as high-paying jobs and popular study choices.

In South Africa, there is an even greater need for experienced and qualified artisans to carry out national development plans, which has led to government funding and supporting artisan training.

A career in trade

A person working in trade is known as an artisan, and a career in trade requires advanced training and skills, and the best part? Trade careers don’t require four-year degrees. Not everyone belongs behind a desk working a straight 9 to 5 white-collar job. Some people are good at working with their hands, strong in problem-solving and prefer to be actively engaged in their day-to-day work.

According to reports, careers in trade use the latest technology and tools to turn plans into reality, and thrive in finding practical solutions to real-world problems.

“Mechanical ability, good hand-eye co-ordination and strong mathematical skills are a great foundation for success in the trades.”

Fast Company reported skilled trades as one of the five jobs that will be the hardest to fill in 2025, attributing to the fact that there would be “large numbers of workers retiring but fewer young people choosing these careers, which are also difficult to offshore or fully automate.”

Career opportunities

Artisans use their skills to develop infrastructure and deliver basic services. Once an artisan becomes certified, they can also venture into becoming instructors, supervisors and inspectors. They are able to practice their craft in big government organisations or as private contractors for the corporate side of business.

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) lists the top trade skills shortages in South Africa.

Here are some of the trades in demand:

1. Millwrights

According to Wikipedia, a millwright is a high-precision craftsman or skilled tradesman who installs, dismantles, maintains, repairs, reassembles, and moves machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites.

2. Toolmakers

According to Student Scholarships, toolmakers craft precision tools and machines that are used to cut, shape, and form metal and other materials.

3. Boilermakers

A boilermaker fabricates steel, iron, or copper into boilers and other large containers intended to hold hot gas or liquid. They also maintain and repair boilers and boiler systems.

4. Fitters and turners

Fitters and turners fit, assemble, grind and shape metal parts and sub-assemblies to fabricate production machines and other equipment.

5. Carpenters and joiners

Both are construction trades. Joiners join wood in a workshop, whereas carpenters construct the building elements on-site.

6. Welders

A welder joins metal together on metal constructions through the use of intense heat and gas.

7. Plumbers

Plumbers are responsible for pipe installation and repairs that supply water and gas, as well as carry waste away from homes and businesses.

8. Diesel mechanics

They inspect and service vehicles that run on diesel engines, and inspect or repair electrical systems, retrofit exhaust systems and replace motor components.

9. Instrument technicians

They conduct precision work in the field of measurement and control. Inspecting, testing, repairing, and adjusting instruments that detect, measure, and record changes in industrial environments.

10. Metal fabricators/sheet metal workers

They make precision sheet metal parts for a variety of industries, which include power generation to medical device manufacturing.

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