29 March 2019

The Construction Education and Training Authority
(Ceta) on Wednesday presented a draft version of its five-year small,
medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) strategy, which has followed an
extensive stakeholder engagement process and aims to support SMMEs past
the training stage and
into the entrepreneurial stage.

“Skills development is not just about training people
for employment, it must also empower people to create opportunities to make a
living for themselves and perhaps opportunities for others to do so as well,”
commented Motheo Construction CEO
Dr Thandi Ndlovu.

She said the construction industry
has trained a lot of people, who are now sitting at home, frustrated, and yet
the industry trains still more cohorts of people, with no access to

Further, construction activity
has been on the decline for the past eight years, Ndlovu pointed out. “The
companies we used to call the big seven have subsequently declined to the big
five, and are now struggling with procurement of opportunities.

“This decline is good for business for small
enterprises. It introduces new ways of thinking and new ways of entering the [construction] space.
The building has not
fallen, but there are new tenants moving in,” she said.

Ndlovu added that the industry must think
beyond training, to
entrepreneurship. She motivated that partnerships can provide access to

“Private sector entities can assist people coming
out of training mode and
into business mode.”

Ceta acting CEO Robert Semenya presented
the authority’s draft five-year strategy, which was being extended and modified
with feedback provided during the summit.

He said the strategy is aligned with key
fundamentals prevalent in the sector at the moment: women-empowerment and
empowering people with disabilities.

Additionally, he said the industry has seen many
learnerships and artisanal programmes, but it has not seen a lot of skills
development that focuses on enterprise development.

One of the objectives of Ceta’s SMME strategy
includes restoring the dignity of people. For example, people are seen outside
of building stores,
advertising their skills on boards, such as “painter”, “plumber” or “tiler”.
“We now collect information from those people to determine their age, origin
and level of education and we
will develop a programme to assist them with opportunities in the sector. We
want to ensure that those people are formalised and accessible to the

Semenya explained that the strategy follows an
overhead three-pronged approach, focused on grass-roots level SMMEs, SMMEs
already in the business and those
that need support for the business to
remain sustainable.

He said Ceta will also develop programmes to assist older SMME professionals, who tend to have more expertise, but also lack access to opportunities.

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