Afrox, in partnership with non-profit upliftment organisations, POPUP, has established and equipped a 12-bay welding school in Soshanguve. African Fusion talks to Johan Pieterse about the development.
“Developing skills across industries will play a key role in developing South Africa’s economy and training welding artisans locally will increase opportunities within the country’s workforce,” says Afrox’s Johan Pieterse.
“As a leading industrial gases and welding equipment supplier in sub-Saharan Africa, Afrox is establishing its first tertiary welding facility as our contribution to the upliftment of our unemployed youth and towards the development of entrepreneurial skills,” he adds.
Launched in partnership with POPUP (People Upliftment Programme), at the new Community House Building Training Centre in Soshanguve, South Africa. The new school has 12 fully equipped welding bays and is suitable for training in shielded metal arc welding (SMAW); gas metal arc welding (GMAW); tungsten inert gas welding (GTAW); and oxy-fuel welding and cutting processes.
The aim of the Soshanguve-based facility is to support various technical up-skilling programmes with an emphasis on welding as an in-demand route to sustainable careers.
Says Pieterse: “Quality training and development arise from good training infrastructure. The Afrox team, therefore, leaped at the opportunity to build a top class training facility to accommodate 12 students at a time.
“This will be supported by our skills development training programmes, which will contribute towards formal qualifications. We kicked off the first programme recently and look forward to certifying our first trainees in July 2016. The class of 2016.
Afrox has developed a comprehensive set of in-house welder-training course material in an attempt to better match the real needs of South African Industry for artisans that have a thorough grounding in basic welding theory and the knowledge and ability to produce consistently high quality welds in practice. “We are very proud of the quality of the material we have produced,” Pieterse tells African Fusion. “The material is easy to read and understand and we have had a very positive response from the welding industry about its suitability and usefulness.
“We intend to pursue CHIETA accreditation for the material and we hope it will be adopted by other welding training schools in the future,” he adds. “ Afrox intends to establish continuity by training instructors and partnering with like-minded organisations, such as the Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW), to ensure that we continue to develop welders trained to international welding standards, creating jobs across sub-Saharan Africa.”
Says SAIW executive director, Sean Blake: “We are acutely aware of the need for more and better skilled welders in South Africa. We are therefore happy to support initiatives such as these, especially if they create pathways for unemployed people to become accredited to International (IIW) standards.”
Enhancing local skills is the driver behind Afrox’s skills development programme, which has now been extended to schools to attract and inform pupils of the advantages of a technical career and encourage more young learners to take welding further at a tertiary level.
As a result, Afrox has partnered with the Department of Education, supporting its Technical School Recap programme under Mechanical Technology. The Afrox-supported strategy is focused on de-mothballing welding facilities, equipping them with advanced technology equipment and upskilling educators to facilitate training.
To date Afrox has upgraded and equipped 14 technical schools nationally, trained more than 40 teachers in the four main welding processes and communicated the importance of technical skills qualifications at selected launches in the major provinces.