Skills Development for Construction in Post-Apartheid South Africa

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Under the colonial and apartheid governments in South Africa, the majority of the population was incrementally excluded form skilled and professional occupations in the formal construction industry. This phenomenon, combined with a global decline in apprenticeships, has left the country with a severe skills shortage that has been addressed through policy and legislation since the advent of democracy in 1994. This paper discusses the application of the new integrated approach to education and training as implemented in the current South African Expanded Public Works Programme. The multi-sectoral initiative has employment creation and skills development as its primary objectives, with a target of 750 000 job opportunities to be provided in the construction component in the first five years of the Programme’s implementation. Despite the association of job creation in civil engineering with low standard rural infrastructure, pilot studies leading up to the Programme have shown the importance of the highest quality of engineering and management to allow employment intensive methods to be competitive in the major economy. Detailed research and innovation, coupled with a computer managed Choice of Technique Analysis, have facilitated the adoption of this mode of production for the delivery of high-standard infrastructure to allow the Programme to meet its ambitious targets.


Keywords: Job Creation, Infrastructure, Integrated Education and Training
Stream: Human Technologies and Usability
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Anne Susan Fitchett

Lecturer, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of the WItwatersrand
Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Current position: Lecturer (full time), School of Architecture and Planning; Assistant Dean Undergraduate, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of the Witwatersrand. Graduated with B Arch (Wits) 1982: Convocation scholarship 1977; Johannesburg City Council bursary 1977-1981. Graduated with M Sc (Project Management in Construction) (Wits) 2002. Currently registered for PhD in School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, entitled “Small Public Buildings for Employment Creation and Skills Development in South Africa.” Research publications and conferences
Refereed articles: Fitchett, A. (1998) “Function and Creativity in Architecture: A Value Management Perspective.” Urban Forum Vol 9:2. Fitchett, A. (1999) “Architectural Strategy within the Village of Rhodes.” SA Architect, Sept/Oct. Fitchett, A. (2001) “Contractor Development through the provision of Low-cost Mass Housing.” Urban Forum Vol 12:3-4. Refereed and accepted for publication:
Fitchett, A. (unpubl.) “ Visual, Written and Oral Literacy in the teaching of Architectural History.” Academic Development. Conference papers:
Fitchett, A. (1985) “CAD as a design tool in practice.” Architecture Student Congress, Cape Town. Fitchett, A. (2001) “Contractor Development through the provision of Low-cost Mass Housing.” WORK2001 First International Conference for Employment in Development, University of the Witwatersrand.
Fitchett, A and McCutcheon, R (2005) “Training Vocational and Entrepreneurial Skills: shared concerns of South Africa and Europe” WORK2005 Second International Conference for Employment in Development, University of the Witwatersrand.
McCutcheon, R and Fitchett, A. (2005) “The Critical Importance of the Hands-on Site Supervisor.” WORK2005 Second International Conference for Employment in Development, University of the Witwatersrand.
McCutcheon, R and Fitchett, A. (2005) “Skills, Training and Education for Employment and Development.” WORK2005 Second International Conference for Employment in Development, University of the Witwatersrand.
R.T. McCutcheon, RT; Croswell, JA and Fitchett, A. (2006) “The Provincial and Municipal Infrastructure Grants, Contract Documentation, Training and the Expanded Public Works Programme: Practical limitations which need to be addressed for success.” 70th IMESA Conference: University of Johannesburg
McCutcheon, R.T., Croswell, J.A., Taylor Parkins, F.L.M., and Fitchett. A. (2007) “Challenges facing the implementation of the South African Expanded Public Works Programme.” Department of Public Works / International Labour Organisation. 12th Regional Seminar for Labour-Intensive Construction. Durban. South Africa. McCutcheon, R.T., Lieuw Kie Song, M.R., and Fitchett, A. (2007) “The Real and Opportunity Costs of Unemployment.” Department of Public Works / International Labour Organisation. 12th Regional Seminar for Labour-Intensive Construction. Durban. South Africa.
McCutcheon, R.T., and Fitchett, A. (2007) “Skills, Training and Education for Employment and Development.” Department of Public Works / International Labour Organisation. 12th Regional Seminar for Labour-Intensive Construction. Durban. South Africa.
McCutcheon, R.T., Fitchett, A., and Taylor Parkins, F.L.M. (2007) “Integration of Training and Implementation: Lessons for the South African Expanded Public Works Programme from Kenya, Botswana and Lesotho.” Department of Public Works / International Labour Organisation. 12th Regional Seminar for Labour-Intensive Construction. Durban. South Africa. Background papers: Standenaes, J-G and Fitchett, A (2004) “Youth employment, job creation, vocational training, safer cities and good governance.” UN Habitat Forum, Barcelona. McCutcheon, RT; Fitchett, A; Lieuw Kie Song, M and Quainoo, HA. (2004) “An Overview of the South African Construction Sector in 2003.” Presented to COSATU in preparation for the 2004 Job Summit. Conference co-convenor: WORK2005 Second International Conference for Employment in Development (with Prof RT McCutcheon) Referee:Urban Forum (International journal, DE accredited) Editor: “WORK2005 Second International Conference for Employment in Development: Conference Proceedings.” (with Prof RT McCutcheon) Community Service Consultancies: Lenasia Tamil Association Rhodes Ratepayers Association (facilitation of proclamation of village as conservation area) University of the Witwatersrand, William Cullen Library
LITE (Labour Intensive Training and Engineering, Section 21 Company)
New Jerusalem Children’s Home, Midrand Siyakhana Food Garden Project, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand Professional 1981-1982: Architectural Assistant, Johannesburg City Council Architectural and Housing Branches 1982-1987: Project Architect (work included RAU Engineering Faculty; Odi Manpower Centre; Apartment Block for SABC employees; Stores Buildings for AngloVaal)1988-1996: Established “Anne Fitchett Architect” (work included Lenasia Tamil Community Centre, restoration and new houses in Rhodes conservation area, pre-primary school for Rosebank Primary School)

Prof. Robert McCutcheon

Professor, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of the Witwatersrand

Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa


Ref: T08P0254