Sparks Electrical News

Training and Development by Nick du Plessis

I am currently involved in the WorldSkills preparation phase for electrical learner, Mthokozisi Christopher Sanga, who will be representing South Africa at the WorldSkills International competition in Abu Dhabi later this year. How will we fare? You might be wondering if the skills of a South African learner are on a par with other learners who will be representing their countries in Abu Dhabi.

My answer is yes, they are, if we consider that all competitors from the 37 countries have to be 22 years of age or younger, when they compete against each other. This is where we struggle in South Africa. Many of our learners only find access to the technical world of study once they have completed Grade 12. However, the issue is being dealt with as we speak; technical high schools are slowly re-emerging and this will assist greatly in the future.

As the National Expert for Electrical Installations in the WorldSkills event, I hosted the top three competitors from the National Skills Competition in a four week programme during which time they received training in building automation and Logo 8 PLCs, and we addressed some basic skills. The three then competed against each other in a skills demonstration. The competence demonstration task was similar to the one undertaken by competitors in the 2015 Sao Paulo skills competition, and the standard of skills demonstrated by the three competitors was very competitive against international standards.

What I have learnt from this and previous competitions in South Africa is that we do have learners with the potential and talent, all they need is guidance and support. Those of us in industry can provide this. In many organisations, it does happen. In others, production is the primary concern and people come second. Where things go wrong, is that frequently, when we experience difficulties with a learner, we tar them all with the same brush. The reality is, if we have a dedicated and efficient work force, production will develop and improve from this activity.

Evidence of our skills development capabilities is available. If you scan the world, you will find South African artisans on all corners of the earth and these artisans are respected for the capabilities and skill levels they acquired in this country. You will never know if you have, amongst your staff, the artisan who will do great things if you do not take the time to help learners achieve their goals. By helping, you in turn will achieve your goal.

South Africa has people, and particularly learners, with potential. All they require is someone to help them identify opportunities and provide an avenue for skills application and skills development. If we want to kick-start our economy, coaching and mentoring are critical in South Africa.

So, consider the rough diamond you have working for you or the learner standing at the entrance to your office premises with his or her CV in hand, as possible potentially brilliant artisans and let’s go out and make a difference.

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Title: Editor
Name: Karen Grant
Email: sparks@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

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Name: Carin Hannay
Email: carinh@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
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