IOPSA develops a new generation of plumbing artisans

The Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) has several critical initiatives underway. The following is a summary of some of them, which will be explored in greater detail in following issues.


261954 P4LQ48 612As the representative body of the plumbing industry, IOPSA looks after the interests of its various stakeholders. One of the key areas in which IOPSA continues to invest resources is training and development across the sub-sector. There are two major approaches through which this is gradually being achieved – involvement in apprenticeship programmes that address the national challenge of youth unemployment; and lobbying policy makers on matters around skills development for the plumbing trade.

Centres of Specialisation (CoS)

IOPSA serves as the lead employer in the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)’s CoS initiative. The primary objective of CoS is to address the demand for priority trades that are required for the implementation of the government’s National Development Plan and the National Infrastructure Plan through direct contribution towards building the capacity of the public Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college system so that it can deliver trade qualifications with employers as critical role-players. With plumbing having been identified as one of the 13 priority trades within CoS, IOPSA is charged with the task of acting as a link between industry and participating colleges, onboarding host employers including the management of apprentices in this intricate collaboration. While other aspects such as funding are driven by DHET through the Sector Education and Training Authority (Seta) discretionary grant system, IOPSA ensures that both employers and colleges offer a well-rounded skills solution for the development of a world-class artisan.

Dual System Pilot Project (DSPP)

Another flagship project that IOPSA runs in collaboration with the German Cooperation (GIZ) is DSPP, which essentially has the same objectives as those of CoS. Funded directly by the National Skills Fund (NSF), DSPP aims to aggressively pilot the ‘dual’ principle preparing the ground for a full CoS implementation process. The dual principle is an arrangement whereby employers offer experiential learning to apprentices while TVETs impart the knowledge component, including simulations with IOPSA as the centre. This ensures that all parties contract seamlessly in a project that will culminate in the all-important trade test. The first intake for this three-year programme started in January 2018, while the second group is expected to commence soon in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape. This means that IOPSA will be celebrating along with the first group from Ekurhuleni East and Port Elizabeth colleges as they become qualified artisans in 2020.

Strong lobbying position

IOPSA’s leadership in these prestigious programmes has not gone unnoticed as the body continues to participate in various forums as part of project and operations teams that direct effectiveness within the initiatives. We continue to grow as an influencer in the skills development debate – such as our leadership getting called upon to advise government teams with regard to plumbing skills. It also includes involvement in curriculum development with bodies such as the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations. In partnership with the Plumbing Industry Registration Board, IOPSA also advocates for recognition of plumbers’ continuous professional development efforts in the hope that these interventions will, in the near future, count towards attainment of skills development points as prescribed in the Amended Construction Sector Codes.

The recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between IOPSA and the Construction Sector Education and Training Authority means that the organisation is increasingly consolidating its position as an industry force that is geared to shape the skills development landscape going forward. This strategic partnership heralds a new day and will certainly be a catalyst for more targeted development programmes in plumbing for the benefit of South Africa’s historically disadvantaged persons, particularly youth and women.


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