New work-based apprenticeship learning for the welding industry through the SAIW Foundation and the Quality Council for Trade and Occupation (QCTO) has set new professional standards for a skilled and capable South African welding workforce; one which promises respectable salaries and the overall economic growth of the industry through aligned skills delivery and quality national qualifications.
Welding industry apprenticeship training of the past has been plagued with profit-only focussed training centres, outdated curriculums, poor skills, and workplace service delivery resulting in apprentice job losses, and lowered skills and industry service standards. The new Dual System of Apprenticeship Learning will now see a qualification which combines theoretical and simulation training at the SAIW and authentic work experience at employer site facilities.
SAIW Business Development Manager Etienne Nell comments; “Many welding apprentices were failing to secure work and employment opportunities were lost due to non-aligned skills training or occupational competency. Now, through a new single, integrated learning programme all traineeships will be facilitated through the employee according to the QCTO curriculum and based on targeted skills training standards at the SAIW Foundation.
“This means fabricators select and manage their own employees, register them for the desired training standards for the services they require and the employee is able to complete their apprenticeship on the job and according to industry recognised standards related to the welding expertise required at their workplace.”
The new, industry-designed curricula programme ensures the apprentice of 1310 hours of knowledge, 1960 hours of AI simulation welding training and 2200 hours of workplace experience resulting in a new qualification which reflects occupational competence, Trade theory, simulated practice and workplace capability. Qualifications which will assist apprentices achieve economic productivity and higher employment returns in their chosen speciality.
Benefits for industry employers include the resulting productive value of the apprentice’s work, SETA grant support towards apprentice training costs, a Tax-break from SARS and B-BBEE scorecard points for skills development for the welding industry.
Showing full commitment to the QCTO curriculum and the new Dual System Learning for Apprentice’s program, the SAIW will also assist in maintaining the required training results for external assessment, as required by QCTO.
“Working together with the SAIW, the QCTO and the International Institute of Welding, the industry as a whole is ensured of the best possible outcomes when supporting quality assuring workplace learning to national qualification. They will have skilled employees trained to industry standards and acculturated to the company, meaning there is lower risk to quality and service, lower-cost recruitment and better employee retention,” says Nell
Employer support is vital
In support of the Dual System national and internationally recognised diploma, the SAIW is calling on the welding industry to step forward and show its support through providing Apprentice Contracts for employees and agreement towards a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the SAIW concerning quality assurance.
SAIW Executive Director John Tarboton describes it as a win-win situation of economic benefit to the industry which couldn’t have come at a better time given the current economic crisis the country finds itself in. He stresses however, “The reality is that we can’t do it alone. We need industry commitment and financial support to drive this programme. which makes perfect business sense given that it will ultimately lead to the delivery of highly skilled welding artisans of international standard and an overall deepening of South Africa’s skills base.”