The national infrastructure requirements leading up to 2010 and the Millennium Goals to 2014 stimulated business and government expenditure for new manufacturing and construction projects. Many of the artisans required for those projects would be for trade qualifications registered and quality assured by the merSETA. These projects range from power stations, to transport infrastructure, to metals beneficiation and manufacturing operations on a large scale. In view of this, many merSETA aligned / levy paying organizations will experience serious artisan skills shortages. The merSETA therefore implemented an Accelerated Artisan Training Programme (AATP), for which special discretionary grants were reserved for the period leading up to 31 March 2010 (This Project was Ring-Fenced). For the purposes of clarity, an accelerated apprenticeship is a modern apprenticeship programme that fast-tracks artisan development through up-front institutional training until all competencies have been achieved in a simulation environment, followed by workplace exposure over the required number of weeks (– 80 to 90 weeks for metal related trades and 104 weeks for motor related trades) – and which ends in a trade test.
Participation on this project was subject to an apprentice intake of 10 or more candidates. Employers would also need to have had enough qualified artisans to mentor these apprentices – i.e., the ratio of one qualified artisan to two apprentices is the normal requirement according to the merSETA workplace approval quality assurance standards. Companies who wished to participate would also need to have had dedicated senior employee’s to oversee the programme and related apprentice management systems. The application to participate started with a submission of an “In-Principle Commitment” (AATP Form 1) signed by the MD, CEO or Owner of the company, and the Chairperson of the Training Committee. This commitment was followed by a description of how many candidates would be taken into the different trades and workplace sites (AATP Form 2). The merSETA AATP Project Office then confirmed whether the AATP Discretionary Grants had been conferred, and a Funding Agreement was signed. The Employer was then invited to find a suitable Training Provider (if they did not have their own training centre) and to start the recruitment and selection process of their candidate apprentices.
The accelerated format of the programme required that candidate apprentices entering the programme had a higher qualification than required in normal apprentice training. The minimum qualification requirements were one of the following:
- Four engineering related subjects at N3 level including maths and science passes exceeding 50%
- NCV Level 4 (Engineering) full exemptation, which is the new curriculum being offered at FET Colleges since 2007.
- Technical or academic matric with maths and science passes of 50% or more on standard grade.
- University students, who for various reasons, could not complete their engineering studies. (S1 to S4)