Aircraft Structural Worker apprentice Mandi Fourie has won the Denel Centre for Learning and Development’s (DCLD) Hawker Siddeley award as the best overall first year student for 2009.
Denel says it is the first time a woman has taken the prestigious award.
Denel group CE Talib Sadik told guests at a recent awards ceremony a lack of investment in the aviation industry and competing social priorities was creating a situation where South Africa was “fast approaching the possibility of losing essential aerospace skills.”
“As a resource-rich continent with the dire need to improve our level of industrialisation and our countries’ competitiveness, drive sustainable growth and achieve our aim of becoming a knowledge-based economy, the DCLD plays a vital role in developing young talent in Africa to meet the challenge of a significant lack of aviation skills,” he added.
DCLD general manager Dr Eric Khoza said the already-existing skills shortage in the aviation sector has “led to a high demand for recognised education and training institutions, such as the DCLD, that can train and mentor young people to become capable industry players.”
“This year, we are especially gratified by the fact that several women apprentices were among our top achievers.” Sheri Crouch, from Aerosud who studied the Aircraft Electrician trade, was awarded the Amosa award for “most motivated apprentice displaying initiative”, he said.
In addition to winning the overall prize, Fourie was one of three apprentices honoured with an “achievement award” for passing all tests (theory and practical) on first attempt.
Southern Sudanese students SP Ohitai and JP Dumo won best achiever awards for their performance in the aircraft and electronic departments respectively. “The DCLD has played a commendable role in grooming our youth with much-needed aviation skills,” Khoza added.
They were among 17 South Sudanese students graduating from the DCLD this year.
Their skills would go a long way in strengthening “our aviation industry,” said Major General James Hoffmei, Chief of Staff of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, also speaking at the ceremony.
“We anticipate that these young achievers will go a long way in ensuring the future development of our aviation sector.”
Established in 1965 the DCLD provides training mainly for aviation and engineering related trades such as aircraft mechanics, aircraft electricians, fitters and turners and machine tool millwrights.
The institution is accredited to the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), Transport Education Training Authority (TETA), Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (MERSETA) and the Energy Sector Training Authority.
Its training services have in recent years been extended to African countries such as Cameroon, Sudan, Uganda and Rwanda.
In the last five years, the DCLD has trained more than 1035 apprentices, including 197 women.
The DCLD is currently recruiting new students for next year’s intake. “Through our training we look forward to continue contributing to the aerospace industry both in South Africa and on the continent in a sustained and significant way,” said Khoza.
Pic: Mandi Fourie with Denel CE Talb Sadik (left) and DCLD MD Dr Eric Khoza (right)