The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) has invested an estimated R12 million in refurbishing a training centre in Benoni, Ekurhuleni.
SEIFSA is a national federation representing 18 independent employer associations in the metal and engineering industries. The training centre, originally opened in 2014 and offers post-matric apprentice training, leadership, short technical courses, continuous upskilling of artisans and trade competency assessment services, among other things.
It is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the National Artisan Moderation Body as a trade test centre and has tested more than 400 candidates per year, since 2014. The refurbishment means that instead of focusing mainly on apprenticeships, the centre is now able to prepare youngsters for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
Speaking at the opening, the Deputy Director-General of the Skills Development Branch at the DHET, Zukile Mvalo, said South Africa desperately needs to use, absorb and develop local people in the steel and engineering sectors to achieve economic progress. This will help the country ‘tackle the challenges of unemployment, inequality, poverty and now hunger’.
Puleng Mahlong (25) from Ramahantsha Village in Limpopo studied at the centre and says it was an eye-opener for him. He says he studied maths and physics at school, but was unable to get into a university and so chose to do a technical qualification in the mechanical trade. He says the educators had extensive knowledge and he benefited from the hands-on training.
Mahlong says that as a result of the thorough training, he is now employed at APE Pumps in Germiston.
SEIFSA Training Centre Director Preggy Chetty says their courses are meant as a stepping stone to finding work. “We can train people, but if they cannot get jobs, then we need to do more. Our innovation hub and business incubation facilities will take newly qualified welders and boilermakers, for example, through the process of setting up their small businesses, with the support of the SEIFSA Training Centre.”
Entry-level programmes require a Grade 10 with pure mathematics or physical science or an N2. Candidates may also have to write an entrance test. The centre also helps people get a formal qualification through the recognition of prior learning process. The recognition of prior learning process is assessed on individual cases.