Good artisans in South Africa – a sought after breed
Here we give a high five to those really in the trade.
A question often coming up over the last five years and more so now in the RSA and especially after all the turmoil at almost all the universities in South Africa is what has happened to the artisan?
Mathematics and Science – bring out the abacus
It’s no hidden secret that everyone wants to become an engineer in high school but our average 16 year old sadly does not have the level of understanding in maths and science that a pupil in the Netherlands or Germany has. Trying to gypo the system through lower pass rates and barrier to entry into engineering courses defeats the object. We allow no error latitude in aviation so why should we in civil, structural or mechanical engineering.
Here’s the thing though – when I matriculated in 1976 it was not frowned upon to become a boilermaker, plumber, electrician, mechanic or sheet-metal worker. Recently, I do believe it was the January edition of Popular Mechanics a youngster asked why we South African’s don’t design and build their own cars? It’s a simple but very good question. We had the Flamingo and Dart and the Ranger (by GM, believe it or not), a copy of the German Opel with a 2.5L 4 cylinder motor. All things considered, this is where we should be. Heavens above, we should have the talent. (take note younger readers – Google Basil Green Motors, Capri Perana V8 and Willie Meisner, Bob van Niekerk and Verster de Wit. Those were the days).
Good not Mediocre makes an artisan
What many people forget is that a “good” artisan, a diesel mechanic, electrician and millwright earn often more than university graduates. What makes their qualification and four years experience worse than that of a B.Sc grad in any event. We laugh about the adage that a tradesman fixes the engineer’s mistakes. .
Forcing out artisans as we compete in a space which is often thought barren, the engineering sector, we are creating another hole. I do not know whether the educational sector is looking into this and what their plans are – we do not read about this in the media. We do read about the carnage at the universities though. Oh yes, at trade school there is also no time for mischief, one used to get ousted for any misbehaviour. God forbid the electrician who burns down his or her trade school because it’s their constitutional right. What happens around the DB or repairs to the mission critical control circuity once they start getting their hands dirty? Maybe an unstable mind at work in a medical lab or hospital auxiliary supply.
Many of our top scientists are those that do not have the luxury of university education. They went through the “Street School” and understand the mechanics of life. And are better off educationally and financially.
Michael Faraday remains one of my firm favourites. Maybe not exactly an artisan but certainly an expert in his field without the degree.
Bring back the artisan! Stick your neck out and give us a good story.
Some interesting reading: