THE Bellville Mechanical Workshop apprentice training scheme is one of the Department of Transport and Public Works’ flagship programmes in the Western Cape, on youth empowerment and training in essential skills. The programme dates back to 1966 and is a response to the critical shortage of highly skilled technicians in South Africa.
Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works, Western Cape Government, says, “The programme takes four years to complete and is highly technical, and also very demanding on its apprentices. With tool-making included in the programme, it is considered one of the top mechanical skills training programmes in the country. The practical work is complemented by further education and training to the level of NTC 5 at Northlink College. The programme receives an annual budget of R1.2 million, has trained close to 40 apprentices since 2010, and has a 100% pass rate.
“Essential artisans skills are sorely lacking in South Africa. Much of our own skilled workforce is fast approaching retirement age, necessitating this type of skills training which is targeted particularly at young people. The investment in those skills through programmes like the Bellville Mechanical Workshop apprenticeship programme, and others, can only be to the benefit of the economy of this province and therefore South Africa. Dedicating resources to upskilling young people, and giving them opportunities to better themselves, remains a priority of the Department of Transport and Public Works as well as the Western Cape Government.”
Foundation training, focussing on basic mechanic fundamentals, is presented and taught at the Mechanical Training School throughout the participants’ time spent as apprentices. Practical training consists of all areas of practice in the Diesel Mechanic Trade, taught in a live environment, where lessons can immediately be put into practice both at the Bellville Workshop as well as at other field workshops managed by the department.
The extra areas of exposure and training which all the apprentices receive include:
• General repairs to earthmoving machinery
• Servicing and maintenance of road construction machinery
• Ground engaging tools and implements
• Basic welding
• Basic fitting and turning
• Basic spray painting
Adds grant, “All of the apprentices also attend technical colleges, like Northlink College, where they achieve the various training levels of the National Technical Certificate (NTC). This, coupled with the invaluable practical training received as part of the programme, places them far ahead of others in their field without the same level of practical training. The skills they attain through the programme will inevitably place them in high demand, even with private sector employers who realise the value added by this programme.”
This year, the programme welcomes three new apprentices, with Grant being confident they will be successful graduates in four years’ time:
1. Justin Jansen, aged 20 from Delft,
2. Kyle Duminy, aged 20 from Genadendal,
3. Duhayne Sacco, aged 18 from Worcester.
Grant concludes, “The programme will continue to produce highly skilled young professionals in their chosen fields. I have no doubt that, like those that have come before them and those that will follow, our apprentices will excel in the programme and turn the opportunities that they have been given into careers. We will continue to support programmes like this one that aim to empower young people.”
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