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CDI to begin development of e-learning platform for craft and design sector

Wednesday, 28 November 2018  
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Small businesses and creatives in the craft and design sector will soon be able to access training at the click of a button with the announcement of a new collaboration between the Craft and Design Institute (CDI) and the CSIR’s Enterprise Creation for Development (ECD).

The CDI and CSIR ECD were appointed by the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) to develop an e-learning solution for the sector, and it promises to massively increase the reach of training which the CDI has been successfully delivering over the past 17 years.

The project got underway recently with a Request for Proposals call for service providers to undertake the development of the platform, with final selection being made in November.

According to Erica Elk, Executive Director of the CDI, the project is a significant step for the craft and design sector.

The development of the e-learning platform is part of a broader CDI strategy to support and grow the sector through digital initiatives; in 2016 the CDI launched, a market platform for local creative businesses to showcase their products, and the e-learning platform will be another building block to enable access, this time to training.

“The sector can benefit from the vast potential that digital technology presents, and we are working on a number of fronts to pilot new tools and avenues for local creative entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. This includes looking at critical areas for success, such as increasing the digital proficiency of local producers, and addressing the challenge of more affordable data,” says Elk.

Much of the groundwork has been done since April 2018 in collaboration with the CSIR ECD, particularly with regards to scoping the project. The e-learning strategy implementation is structured according to two key phases: Phase 1: Development of platform and piloting with one course; and Phase 2: Content generation of the rest of the courses leading to full implementation. With the appointment of a service provider complete, work will begin in earnest with the development of the platform, the pilot content, and testing.

The CDI has over 5 000 members nationally and since 2001 has provided over 59 000 development opportunities/activities to creative businesses all over the country – these include activities such as workshops, consultations, and market opportunities.

Elk adds that the craft and design sector is still a sleeping giant in South Africa; with enormous potential to create more jobs. “While we have touched many thousands of lives through our development work over the years, we know that there are many more thousands who can benefit – and we appreciate that government has emphasised the need to leverage South Africa’s creative capital to expand and deepen the country’s creative and cultural economy, which potentially can lead to the creation of millions of much needed jobs.”

A 2017 report by the World Economic Forum on ‘The Future of Jobs and Skills in Africa’ listed the creative industries as one of the ‘trending’ professions, with an average growth rate of 7% between 2011 and 2016.

The Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) National Mapping Study showed that the largest domains locally are design and creative services (31%) and visual arts and crafts (23%). And, the latest research by the South African Cultural Observatory pegs the total contribution of the creative industries to employment at 6.72% of jobs in the South African economy; that is 1.06m jobs. By comparison Agriculture is 5.59% (880k jobs) and Mining 2.89% (455k jobs).

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