It has been proved that learning on the job is one of the most effective ways of learning a trade. In the case of apprenticeships, this learning method forms the basis of getting apprentices integrated into artisan jobs. Successful Work-and-Learn models that incorporate key principles and components of competency-based apprenticeships have been implemented by many employers over many years.
With the companies that entered for the SEIFSA Awards for Excellence in this category, the ways of training differed from a formal to more informal training approaches. Each company has its own unique way of enabling apprentice development, making it successful for its own needs. Some would focus their efforts more on specific job/task development needs, whilst others follow the prescribed apprentice programmes.
In South Africa, one of the key challenges with apprentice training is the fact that companies do not want to employ the apprentices that they train. This is indicative of the support and confidence companies that have in their artisan training initiatives. It is, if you will, an indirect measure of the quality of training!
South Africa, through the training structures, identified scarce and critical skills in the country for a more focused artisan development approach, combined with the need to train female apprentices and the disabled for various enabling reasons.
A structured training plan, which is supportive of a more deliberate training approach, is required to train apprentices. Through this approach, apprentices learn what companies intend for them to learn. This way, they ensure that the training offered has a direct return on investment.
The SEIFSA Artisan Award is given to a company that has the highest activity in artisan training each year for itself and/or the industry. To qualify, companies’ interventions must have taken place during the preceding 18-month period, which means between 1 July 2017 and December 2019.
As judges, we looked closely at the following elements:
- The role played by artisans within the business;
- How the company has invested in Apprenticeships and the immediate benefits this has brought about to the stakeholders;
- The overall benefits and extent of training Apprentices in the business in general; and
- Highlights of excellence in implementing the Apprenticeship
Entrants in this category varied from small, medium to large companies. These were Kgabo Cars, Pamodzi Engineering, SNC Lavalin, MSC and Sulzer Pumps.
The winner in this category stood out from the others as exceptional for a number of reasons, namely:
- The company, which employs 900 permanent people, is world renowned for providing multi-disciplinary construction and technical field services across a wide range of industries and markets and, as such, artisans form the backbone of the company in a very competitive industry.
- Approximately 6% of the overall headcount of the company makes up for the apprenticeship complement (51 apprentices currently in the system).
- About four years ago, the business committed to build its own training centre and invested a substantial amount of money and effort to make this possible. This was done on the back of one of the key challenges facing apprentice training, which is finding workplaces for apprentices to learn job skills.
- The company also committed to train key artisan trade skills that will not only benefit the business, but also address the country’s scarce and critical skills needs. These include – but are not limited to – the Electrical, Boilermaker and Welding trades. During the past five years, the business enrolled 92 apprentices in the scarce-skills trades.
- There is clear commitment to address training that will benefit the previously disadvantaged, including females. 30% of the group in training are female apprentices.
- This business has a clear vision for apprentice training into the future, and acknowledges the importance of well-qualified artisans for the business and the country.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the richly-deserving Winner of the 2019 Artisan of the Year Award goes to —– SNC Lavalin.
SEIFSA acclaims this achievement and congratulates the company.