Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor regards Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges as the new hope in South Africa, she said yesterday.

Pandor was speaking during the soft launch of the Gandhi Mandela Centre of Specialisation for Artisan Skills in South Africa at Tshwane South TVET College.

It comes three months after South Africa and India signed a memorandum of understanding to co-operate with one another in setting up the centre.

The centre is a further step in promoting quality vocational education and training for young people, as well as meeting the need for artisan skills in the country.

Officials in the education sector and technical experts gather to witness what is regarded as a milestone project.

Pandor said she regarded TVET colleges as extremely important armour in the fight against poverty. “For me, the TVET colleges are the hope in South Africa and I’m very serious about them becoming part of the critical edge of skills development in the country.

“I want to increasingly see the TVET sector becoming a confident, able and visible part of the skills institutions,” she said.

Pandor told those gathered that the intention for the centre was to build high-level competent skills in the country which would respond to the need to diversify and build the economy. “This is also to encourage young people to become involved in creating new, small- and medium-sized companies.”

Indian High Commissioner to South Africa Ruchira Kamboj said the project was named after two immortal personalities who link the two countries. “This is a project which many people have put their hearts into, and we are confident that we are headed towards a beautiful conclusion,” she said.

The multi-skilled centre of specialisation at the college will be imparted in four areas: electrician, boilermaker, mechanical fitter and millwright.

The centre is aimed at promoting quality vocational training in the sectors to meet the requirement of unskilled and semi-skilled youth in South Africa.

Last year, a survey conducted by Xpaweb showed that 75% of the country’s companies required international talent to fill positions.

Among the skills companies struggled to find necessary local candidates for were artisans, and so the Artisan Training Institute encouraged young people to enrol in colleges to acquire the skills.