Department of Military Veterans, Paramount Group announce multimillion-rand high-tech skills transfer programme


Paramount Group, Africa’s largest non-government-owned defence and aerospace manufacturer, in partnership with the Department of Military Veterans, today announced a multimillion-rand hi-tech skills development programme aimed at advancing the South African defence industry and enabling the group to meet its future growth plans.

Young descendants of military veterans, identified by the department, will – through a programme of bursaries for tertiary education placements and on-the-job apprenticeships – work with employees of the Paramount Group to ensure their knowledge and world-class skills are passed on to the next generation of South Africans.

The programme, which supports Paramount Group’s existing internal initiative to invest in its current workforce, is funded by the Paramount Group Trust and ensures the majority of a third of all company profits made in South Africa are spent on education and skills development for descendants of military veterans.

The trust, together with the Department of Military Veterans, identified as a necessity for the defence industry’s sustainability that an opportunity exists to transfer core skills to the next generation. Tens of millions of rands per annum will be committed to the programme over the next period.

“Veterans have made a huge contribution to this country and need to be recognised and valued for the role that they have played. It is our obligation to support their descendants and give them an opportunity to secure their own futures and make a contribution to the future of this industry,” said Ivor Ichikowitz, executive chairman of Paramount Group.

“The South African defence industry is generally characterised by an aging workforce. For it to be sustainable, it needs skills transfer, conducted in a long-term, structured and controlled manner that benefits the entire country. Through this programme and in partnership with the Paramount Trust, there will be an investment in skills and it will additionally uplift the military veterans’ family units, which have – up until now – been mostly neglected by the industry,” said the Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, honourable Kebby Maphatsoe.

Those taking part in the programme will be equipped with the hi-tech knowledge-based skills required to keep Paramount Group and SA at the forefront of the global defence industry. The first of the veterans’ descendants will support Paramount Group’s significant recently announced growth plans in the Naval industry, creating a shipbuilding business with an order book in excess of R1 billion; the acquisition of Aerosud’s military business; and its establishment of a Robotics unit.

Dr Mathew Phosa, chairman of the Paramount Group Trust, said: “Military veterans have been the key to the successful transformation of our country. This initiative will go a long way to recognising their role and to enabling their descendants to benefit from the sacrifices they made; to build a future for themselves and to play a role in driving this strategic industry forward.”

The growth of a diversified and sophisticated defence industry is a key component of the government’s industrial development programme, encompassing a wide range of advanced research and innovation capabilities, specialised design and engineering expertise, project management, and many other disciplines that make the defence industry a productive incubator for the industrialisation of the South African economy.