TRAINING – THE ECA’S CONTRIBUTION TO TRANSFORMING SOUTH AFRICA

By Mark Mfikoe, ECA(SA) National Director

I have submitted a number of training proposals to the National Skills Fund with one decisive central theme: we need trained, reliable and skilled artisans from the previously marginalised members of society to ensure that they too, can live the dream of a liberated people.

I have been in the Electrical Industry since 1997 and I was lucky to have been employed within the management of Standard Electrical. It is a company whose majority shareholders, Gary and Alan Abrahamson, insisted on a policy where at least 10% of the employees would receive value enhancing training and development every year. I was tasked with the duty of ensuring that this policy yielded results that added value to the employees and the company.

This training was not limited to site operatives only but also included management training. It was important for the business that all employees in management understood business. That company produced many who are today company owners and skilled employees in the industry. I know what training can do and I love what changes it brought to the lives of these people, and which I witnessed first-hand. I know what it did for me.

When I saw that the training numbers were low in the industry, particularly in our training centres, I was deeply concerned. I was around in this industry when we closed down our training centre in KwaZulu-Natal because it could not fund its costs, largely because too few people were being trained. We teamed up with Tjantjello Training Solutions  to embark on a journey to find funds to train employees and other citizens to be available as resources to businesses in the country. We were successful in securing, amongst others, the Artisan Development Project, where we were tasked with training 200 artisans.

We recruited the learners and placed them with various host employers and trained them in our training centres in Meadowdale and Cape Town. We have now concluded this project and are in the process of putting together the Close-Out Report to the NSF. We are proud to announce that 60 of the learners exit the project as Wiremen. Even more exciting is that 27 of these Wiremen are black females. We produced 108 artisans of whom 33 are black females. This means that in total, we produced 60 Registered Persons being black females. 108 of these are males. Effectively, we used this project to produce 168 Registered Persons for the industry. Seven learners exited as Elconop 3s and 28 learners were not successful to exit as qualified in any of the recognised occupational categories. If you judge the project in terms of the Registered Persons produced, we are looking at a success rate of 83% and, if you include the people exiting as Elconop 3s, the success rate gets even better. We encouraged the learners exiting as E3s to try again outside the project.

I must thank Puleng Pelembe of Tjantjello Training Solutions. I know that skills development is her life and I hope to work with her for as long as I can – both as a person and a professional. I asked Stephen Khola to add Project Operations Management to his portfolio of HR Director and run these projects and he navigated this tough route with the commitment I expected. Keabetswe Matolong and Theresa Megalane were project coordinators and administrators. Angie Mkhomazi, the Highveld Training Centre Manager took ownership and delivered with the assistance of William Maraba. George Senekal of the Cape Town training centre helped with the 15 learners that were based in Cape Town and I am thankful for his efforts. I am also thankful to the following assessors and moderators for their work in the project: Thursdon Duncan, Louis Pretorius, Cornelius Niehof, Past President Johnny Cunniff and Baron Pfidze. My deep appreciation to the ECA member companies that hosted the learners and provided mentorship. You guys carried me at the time when, emotionally, it was very difficult to continue. One day I will write a book about my experiences during the training projects.

These ECA member companies supported this training project by hosting our learners:- ADL Contractors, AH&A Electronics, Alcock Electrical Services, Ally’s Electronetworks, Capotex Electrical, Datelec Electrical, DC Electrical, DC Electrical Africa Cape, Duzicube Electrical, Edison Power (GP), Edison Power(KZN), Engliten, Explosion Proof Projects, Extreme Electrical, Fungani Electrical, Gary Fitton Electrical, FDB Electrical, JBN Power Trading, Kloppers Electrical, NJW Electrical, Motlhakola Projects, MRT Electrical, Multikonstruksie, Namasethu Electrical, Pearl Electric, Presto Electrical, Qualelect Contractors, Raps Electromec, Schoflo Electrical, Segosedi Electrical, Tappans Electrical, Vinnie’s Electrical, Wesley’s Electrical and Wesslink Electrical. Thank you for supporting this initiative. We have arrived at the finishing line.

We have delivered the Artisan Development Project and I am a proud Project Director. When facing all those challenges during the life of this project, I was too in-love with the finishing line to let that discourage me. To the learners, go out there and make yourself and your families proud. We do not apologise for playing the role we did to make your lives better. Whatever you do, don’t fail.

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