Learning factory master site piloted at CSIR

The CSIR and the Sector Education and Training Authority for Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services (merSETA), have developed a learning factory to promote skills development, innovation and support in digital technologies underpinning the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). The pilot site of the Learning Factory was established in March 2021 but has not officially been launched due to current restrictions on gatherings. 

The ultimate objective is to develop and hone the skills of the national workforce to support South African participation in the 4IR.

The facility will serve relevant CSIR stakeholders in the following ways:

  • Function as a reference learning factory for similar facilities that will be established at TVETs) around the country in terms of aspects such as technologies, curriculum and best practices;
  • Serve as a platform for upskilling and re-skilling in the domains most prevalent under the 4IR, in accordance with the National Skills Development Plan;
  • Provide a platform for innovation in 4IR applications – i.e. applied research informed by stakeholder needs, and
  • Provide a platform for technology development, demonstration and transfer informed by stakeholder needs.


In addition to the master learning factory, the intention is for merSETA to establish learning factories at 18 South African TVETs – the first of these already contracted with the EastCape Midlands TVET College.

Further development of the learning factory will continue. The current pilot site include demonstrations of the following:

  • Digital transformation technologies;
  • 4IR technologies;
  • Learning labs that facilitate skills development from a theoretical and practical perspective;
  • Research labs that support research and innovation activities in the 4IR space with respect to design, incubation and prototyping; and
  • Experience centres that support experiential learning by exposing students to  working environments in which 4IR technologies have been employed.

The online training through UNIDO is available. The practical training facilities are functional, but site visits have been postponed until further notice due to the Covid-19 pandemic.   Users do, however, have access to the UNIDO-developed training.