The limited number of specialised and high quality welding training programmes in South Africa is a critical challenge facing the welding industry at present. As a result, industry cannot meet the demand for skilled welders who are needed to deliver on major projects across the country.
Since 2013, Aveng Grinaker-LTA, in partnership with Sasol, has invested approximately R9 million in the Aveng Grinaker-LTA Welding School in order to address the critical skills shortage in the welding discipline.
The main objectives of the Welding School, which is located at the Aveng Grinaker-LTA Steel Fabrication facility in Vanderbijlpark, is to train welding apprentices, up-skill semi-skilled workers and provide unemployed youth from the local community with portable skills. The Welding School is accredited by the Manufacturing Engineering and Related Services SETA (MERSETA) and qualifying learners are awarded with a National Certificate comprising of NQF level 2, 3 and 4 in Welding Application and Practice. During the programme learners undergo 18 – 24 weeks of intensive theoretical and practical and on-the-job experience through apprenticeships.
“To date, 81 ASGI-SA apprentices and 40 Sasol apprentices were trained through the programme and in December 2015 the welding school awarded a Double Coded Welders qualification to 10 learners who are now qualified welders,” explains Henning Venter, Aveng Grinaker-LTA’s Mechanical & Electrical Fabrication Executive.
He further adds: “Skills development is a key focus area for the company and every year 50 learners across the Vaal triangle are accepted into the Welding School’s training programme. Encouragingly, around 60% of these are woman, which demonstrates the growing number of females who are now entering into a previously male dominated profession.”
The training initiatives at the Welding School are a key component of Aveng’s transformation programme. A total of 1 972 employees were trained in various technical skills in the Aveng Grinaker-LTA Civil Engineering Training Centre over the last three years.
Furthermore, there are currently 34 engineering graduates enrolled with the company for formal mentorship towards professional registration with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). The company also sponsors 45 students at tertiary institutions across South Africa through its bursary programmes.