Peter Middleton presents some takeaways from the opening addresses of our education minister, Naledi Pandor and thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions (tkIS) Group CEO, Marcel Fasswell from the launch of the tkIS Training Academy and welcomes an invitation by Fasswell to adopt German cultural values with regard to the respect and value placed on artisans in society.

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On November 8, 2018, in the presence of our education minister, Naledi Pandor; German ambassador, Martin Schäfer; deputy chief of the South African Navy, Rear Admiral DG Jamieson; deputy director of the Namibian ministry of mines and energy, Daniel Zaire; and several more dignitaries, thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions (tkIS) sub-Saharan Africa opened a new technical training academy at its Chloorkop Service Centre.

“Today is a big moment for us, we invested almost R30-million in our tkIS Training Academy and more than three years of time in the planning – and we have been building this structure for the past 12-months,” said Philipp Nellessen, CEO of tkIS sub-Saharan Africa.

Why? “Our success is largely based on the exceptional skills of our people; we need good people to be able to deliver good work. We also see a large pool of untapped potential and talent directly around us and we want to establish an infrastructure to help develop this talent.”

From the Department of Education’s perspective, Naledi Pandor said she would like to see the TVET colleges expand the provision of mid-level technical and occupational qualifications. “Government wants more young people to attain skills and competencies that will help them find jobs or create their own enterprises.”

Pandor described the partnership between TVET colleges and the thyssenkrupp Technical Training Academy as “most encouraging”, while citing the recent launch by her department of an initiative called the ‘Centres of Specialisation Programme’ that focuses on 13 trade occupations at 26 TVET colleges. “This initiative is designed to address the growing demand for the skills needed in our current state infrastructure build,” she revealed.

“The Programme is part of a plan to build an expanded, effective and integrated post-school education system that is anchored by the TVET colleges, and which adequately prepares students for the workplace or self-employment,” she continued, adding that it was “deliberately structured in such a way that students will develop and maintain close working relationships with employers in their areas of study, through equally close partnerships between colleges and employers”.

Taking over the podium, Marcel Fasswald, Group CEO of tkIS said: “We attach importance to training young talent from around the world to meet high international standards and to make important contributions to the further development of their national economies… Young talent in Africa is the future of the continent and a major untapped resource”.

Through the thyssenkrupp Technical Apprenticeship Programme, our Graduate Development Programme, our Commercial Advancement Training Scheme and various internships, Fasswald informed us that tkIS had been supporting South Africa’s Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) programmes for eight years.

“And it’s a similar situation with regard to our involvement in ‘Afrika kommt!’ – ‘Africa’s time is now!’ – a German industry initiative for young executives from sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.

The tkIS apprenticeship programme is oriented to both South African standards and the ‘dual vocational training system’ that has been practiced successfully in Germany for many years. “If you want to learn a profession in Germany, it is highly likely you will go through the dual vocational training system. It is aimed at preparing apprentices in the best possible way for all areas and challenges of the subsequent job and helping them start work with as much knowledge and experience as possible – both theoretical and practical.

“Although the numbers of students at universities have been rising for years, the dual vocational training system remains incredibly important and is the step between school and starting work for around half of all young Germans,” he said.

In an off script moment from his prepared speech, Fasswald invited Naledi Pandor and the South African nation to adopt an element of German cultural values. “In Germany”, he said, “artisans with practical skills are highly respected as valuable contributors to society. There is nothing second rate about being a blue-collar worker.”

If this attitude towards the practical trades could be adopted here, skills shortages could quickly be overcome.

“And that’s where our new Technical Training Academy in Chloorkop comes in. Initially we will enable practical and theoretical training in technical professions for 30 to 35 women and men. But we have much more ambitious plans: We want to increase the number of apprentices to 120 by 2021, providing training beyond our own needs. thyssenkrupp sees it as its duty and responsibility to make a general investment in South Africa’s young talent.

“For companies like us who are pursuing strong growth on the African continent in the coming years, this Academy is an outstanding opportunity to establish and expand a network of young talent and raise our profile as an attractive employer in Africa. The more we invest in training young Africans, the quicker they will be able to change the face of the continent,” Fasswald concluded.

Hear, hear!

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