Durban based shipbuilding and ship repair company Sandock Austral Shipyards (SAS) has responded to the government’s ambitious task of skilling South Africa’s youth in trades meant to build the economy while also unlocking the multi-billion rand Oceans Economy.
The company announced it took on 20 previously unemployed youth, drawn from disadvantaged communities across KwaZulu-Natal, to be trained as artisans at the company’s in-house training school.
The students, made up of nine women and 11 men, will spend the next two years undergoing practical and theoretical training at Sandock Austral Shipyards in Boilermaking and Fitting.
They are being funded through the government’s Operation Phakisa programme.
The course usually runs for four years but has been shrunk to just two years to meet the government’s demands.
Operation Phakisa is an initiative of the South African government that was designed to fast track the implementation of solutions on critical development issues.
It is a unique initiative aimed at addressing issues highlighted in the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 such as poverty, unemployment and inequality, Sandock Austral said.
“SAS is proud to contribute to this important initiative by creating the capacity to train artisans in the various trades, as this addresses the critical technical skills shortage,” Andre Boshoff, SAS Training Manager, said.
He said that the Operation Phakisa Apprenticeship Programme was a great initiative by the government as it brought together various stakeholders to collaborate and to implement initiatives that seek to empower individuals and alleviate poverty and unemployment, especially among young people.
Speaking about the accelerated programme which has been reduced from four years to two years, Boshoff said that it will be challenging for some students as some may not grasp some concepts quickly.
However, SAS will give the students all the tools they need to succeed added with huge doses of motivation.
“Positivity can go a long way in helping the students succeed. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Many apprentices who do extremely well do so because they have the right mindset, the drive and attitude in how they approach their work,” he said.
At the end of the two-year programme, Boshoff said they hoped to keep as many apprentices on as possible.
And even those who may not be guaranteed employment at SAS after the two-year period will walk away with a qualification that will hold them in good stead at many other places or set them up to be entrepreneurs.
Boshoff said that with the skills they acquire at SAS, the artisans will be able to start their own business or use their new skills to do various technical or mechanical work.
He said that many artisans who had trained at SAS had gone on to open their own businesses.
Operation Phakisa represents that new spirit of moving faster in meeting the government’s targets, Sandock Austral said.. South African Government’s starting point was that South Africa is surrounded by a vast ocean and this untapped resource has not been taken advantage of to its full potential.
The oceans have the potential to contribute up to R177 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) and create just over one million jobs by 2033.