Patel: Infrastructure programme will draw on entire skills base

The country will need its entire skills base for government’s R300-billion infrastructure programme, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said on Tuesday.

Asked about affirmative action, he told the Cape Town Press Club that government would make an “active attempt” to bring back South Africans with skills to take part in the programme.

“The infrastructure programme is so vast that we will need the entire skills base of society and more,” he said.

“We will be making an active attempt to bring back South Africans with skills to take part in this programme.”

Patel said South African engineers were sought after “around the world”.

“I visited a Gulf state recently and I asked my counterpart how we could deepen economic relations. He said above all don’t remove your engineers.”

Government was looking at its immigration policies in order to attract the level of skills it needed.

He said the government wanted to form deeper partnerships with universities to make sure the skills base was built up.

“In an expanding economy where you have a shortage, we need to bring in more and we need to bring them in quickly.” — Sapa

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