Published: 2017-10-05

Development of a program to Up-skill Small Builders and Sub-Contractors
There are currently 1,759 Employers registered with the Building Industry of whom 156 are MBAWC contracting members. This clearly indicates that small business and sub- contractors make up the majority in the Council.
It is estimated that at any one time over 700 sub-contractors are employed by our members. Unfortunately many of these small employers and sub-contractors have sprung up due to unprecedented demand as large contractors reduce their labour. The cyclical nature of the Building Industry and the use of special trades at various intervals, in addition to restrictive labour laws, has encouraged ambitious qualified people to set up business in their specialist fields.
It is a statistical fact that over 60% of these enterprises fail in their first two years of trading and over 80% are out of business by 5 years. Most of these "new entrepreneurs" are either skilled Artisans or Construction Supervisors who are no longer employed, and reasons for their failure are two-fold:
1) they have been never been subjected to any training in basic business skills; &
2) they rely on the goodwill of the Principal Contractor;
Due to frustrations caused by bureaucracy, the business owners realise they cannot meet minimum wage requirements of the BIBC, pay WCA and also meet the SARS requirements.
The question this Association must pose is : do we assist them by providing them with courses which cover Small Business Development Training or allow them to join employer bodies that will eventually disrupt the sound labour relations that exists in our industry at present?
My view is that it is our duty to provide suitable quality small business training that will develop these entrepreneurs from a feeling of having been cheated and left in the wilderness to fight for their niche in our industry. Our Association is equipped with the "know how" and we are able to source the best training material available; however the cost of this training will have to be sourced from various other organisations including the BIBC.
Many of our members have Scorecard obligations, so are in a position to make a contribution. It is thought that a partnership with the BIBC would be the most ideal situation. The key must be however that those entrepreneurs that participate should not see this as a freebee, but should be responsible for a portion of the cost.
Although MBAWC should continue to develop young skilled artisans, there is also a need for us to partner in the development of future small business development.
Tony Keal
September 2017

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