South Africa

Addressing the negative perception around tradesmanship

Connecting Human Potential | Enablers of agile, focused and skilled workforces for the future
4 mins

Even though artisan skills are in high demand in South Africa, which the government addressed in 2012 by implementing the National Development Plan 2030, there is still a significantly negative collective perception around artisan and trade qualifications in South Africa. This article attempts to identify and answer some of these negative views and “myths”, thereby promoting more positive discourse around artisanship especially among our youth.


Myth: Becoming an artisan or tradesman is not a good enough job or is a bad career choice. 

Fact: Artisan and trade skills are among the top critical skills in many countries around the world and qualified artisans are among the highest in demand individuals globally.


Myth: Trade jobs don’t earn well and I won’t be able to support my family as an artisan

Fact: There are more opportunities for self employment and business ownership as a qualified and experienced artisan than most other tertiary qualifications in South Africa, regardless or race, age, gender or cultural background.


Myth: Trade work is dangerous

Fact: As in any job or career that requires manual labour, there are health and safety regulations governing how and where activities are to be carried out. 


Myth: Artisan qualifications are difficult to obtain and entail way too much red tape

Fact: Actually, this was partly true. There were many Government policies that made practicing in your qualified trade a little complicated. But Adcorp Group, as the thought leader in this field, is currently addressing these policies with the relevant parties so this will soon be a myth of the past. Check out some of our podcasts to hear what they’ve been up to…


Myth: You need to get a university degree to be an artisan

Fact: Not at all. In fact, you don’t even need a matric for many of the trade qualifications. Contact your nearest TVET College to find out what’s required for which qualification or check out some of our other articles on the topic.


Myth: There is no longevity in being an artisan, I don’t see a future as an artisan

Fact: Like many things in life, this is going to be up to you. As you now know, artisan skills are high in demand in South Africa as well as around the world, so the opportunity for life-long success has been paved.


Myth: Artisan trades are outdated. We live in a technical world where almost everyone has a smart phone, because of this, people want to do jobs where they can use technology like computers since it is what they are used to.

Fact: Believe it or not, there are elements of technology in all of the artisan careers, from designing cupboards on your computer program if you are a carpenter, to being a rigger and getting to manage those massive machines which are controlled by the on-board computer.


Myth: Women can’t become artisans

Fact: This is possibly something that was acceptable to think back in the 1930’s, but the world is constantly changing and has been for many years. Women are venturing into new career avenues and seeing that they are just as capable as men. Being an electrician for example requires minimal brute strength, but more knowledge and understanding than anything. It also requires impeccable technique and precision which are qualities that women are more than capable of. Check out some of our female artisan success stories coming up on our podcast channel.


Myth: Artisans and tradesmen are seen as old and boring. Many of our youth think that it is a job for old people.

Fact: Young artisans are something that can become a new trend if the correct people are in place and if enough exposure to the artisan/tradesman career path is given. It is a job that requires young fit men and women and is far from being an “old man” career.


Myth: It costs way too much and takes way too long to become an artisan

Fact: When training to be an artisan/tradesman, there are many options from attending a TVET college to training at an institute that specialises in a specific trade to training at a company that offers these training courses and will hire you straight from training. It is both cheaper and quicker to get your qualification through these avenues as it is to get a degree through a university. It is generally takes anything from a few weeks to a year to qualify as an artisan. These institutes don’t just give you the knowledge but also the practical skills to be able to qualify and start working straight away.


Myth: It is a thankless job with no reward

Fact: Although many times artisans seem to be in the background and are often overlooked by the clients when a job is done, there are still various ways to be rewarded. For anyone in the construction industry for example, you can stand back and see the finished product when the building is operational and it is the most amazing feeling to know that you have been an integral part of that project.


Myth: It isn’t a job that really benefits my personal life

Fact: Not only do you receive an income from it and enjoy it if you pick the correct trade, but the opportunities for artisans and self employment, business ownership and even immigration are limitless.


Listen to Adcorp Group’s CEO, Dr  John Wentzel, and guest Mr. Geoffrey Kemper, Training Director of Motheo Group, as they share insights into the negative perceptions of artisan and trade work in South Africa as well as the three most important things we can do as a community to change them: Addressing the Negative Perceptions of Trade Work in South Africa (

Find out more about Adcorp and how we can help you today!

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