The national infrastructure requirements leading up to 2010 and the Millennium Goals to 2014 have 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 is therefore implementing an Accelerated Artisan Training Programme (AATP), for which special discretionary grants will be reserved for the period leading up to 31 March 2010. 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 in this project is subject to an apprentice intake of 10 or more candidates. Employers would also need to have 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 wish to participate would also need to dedicate a senior employee to oversee the programme and related apprentice management systems.
The application to participate starts 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 is 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 confirms whether the AATP Discretionary Grants have been conferred, and a Funding Agreement is signed. The Employer is then invited to find a suitable Training Provider (if they do not have their own training centre) and to start the recruitment and selection process of their candidate apprentices.
The accelerated format of the programme requires that candidate apprentices entering the programme have a higher qualification than required in normal apprentice training. Minimum qualification requirements are one of the following: