Project aims to train artisans

Bellville Techinical High Schools apprentices.

An apprenticeship project which will give 21 young people an opportunity to get first-hand experience as artisans was launched at the Bellville Technical High School last week.

The students, who have all completed matric, will spend six months learning in the school’s fitting and turning workshop.

This will be followed by 18 months of in-service training which will set them on the path to becoming qualified fitter and turners.

This is a joint project between the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services SETA (merSETA), which is covering all costs related to the project, and the Department of Basic Education.

Speaking at the launch on Thursday July 6, Department of Basic Education chief director for maths, science and technology, Seliki Tlhabane said the project formed part of the National Development Plan (NDP) to close the gap left in the artisan industry by the apartheid regime. Mr Tlhabane said South Africa needed to produce at least 30000 artisans annually to keep up with the high number of these skilled workers who were reaching retirement.

He said pupils’ mindsets needed to be changed so they could see that this could be a lucrative profession.

“We want to run this project for years to come and look forward to further partnerships,” he said.

Michael Green, an HR manager at a manufacturing company, said this was an exciting development for the industry. “I have been in the industry for 15 years and know how difficult it is to find skilled workers who can address the operational demands of the sector,” he said.

The youth chosen for the project by the merSETA were older than 18, unemployed and not enrolled at higher learning institutions.

The merSETA will monitor the project and guide the work placement process while offering continuous support to the school.

Student Ilse Venter thanked everyone for the opportunity they have given to all the students, saying they would make a success of it.

School principal Michael Koopman said this was a chance for the students to make something of their lives but said it was up to them. He commended the students for their commitment, saying they were there everyday and on time.

The merSETA have started identifying companies where the students will be placed. Once this is completed the students will undertake a trade test in order to qualify as a fitter and turner.

They will be able to work in the component manufacturing sector, making components, for example, for cars, moulds and tool room equipment.

They will also be able to work in the maintenance sector, fixing machinery; and with fast moving consumable goods, stripping and re-building of entire machines in the production sector.