Less than a fifth of the tools used in South Africa are manufactured locally, Gauteng's Department of Economic Development reportedly said on Tuesday, 27 September 2011.
"Tool-making creates quality jobs that are sustainable in the long-term," acting director general Johan van der Merwe told the 2011 Afrimold Conference in Johannesburg.
"For every R100 million worth of tooling manufacturing in South Africa, an additional 400 jobs are created."
According to a statement from the conference organisers, Van der Merwe said under 20% of tools used in South Africa were manufactured locally.
It was a problem for the industry that the average trained toolmaker in South Africa was now 54-years-old although steps were being taken to rectify this.
"We have made great strides in bringing young blood into the tooling industry," he said.
"The demand for tooling is proportional to GDP, and as our economy continues to grow, so will demand."
The National Tooling Initiative Programme's (NTIP) CEO Dirk van Dyk reportedly told delegates South Africa had lost more than 80% of its tool-making capacity to Asia and the European Union since the mid-80s.
The gap continued to widen with demand for tooling having doubled since 2005 mainly due to the growing automotive and packaging sectors, he said.
"The manufacturing sector is the second biggest contributor to GDP in South Africa, and it is our aim to work with the government to regain some of what we've lost," Van Dyk said.
"We do not want to find ourselves in the position of becoming a country that outsources its requirements."
Van Dyk and Van der Merwe said South Africa was making progress thanks to financial support from the NTIP.
"One of the main reasons for the losses South Africa's manufacturing industry has had to endure is skills erosion," said Van Dyk.
"Yet we are already beginning to see a large turnaround in this with the development of a skills model that encompasses not only basic skills, but core and advanced skills too."
In South Africa, around 28% of tool room labour is unskilled.
"Tooling manufacture is technology driven, so skills are imperative. We often see huge damage being done by unskilled labour - both in terms of productivity and hours lost," Van Dyk said.Source: Sapa