African Fusion talks to SAIW’s Etienne Nell about the WorldSkills SA Welding competition and the breakthrough progress being made in South Africa with respect to artisan training and trade tests.

worldskills welding photoFollowing their success in the SAIW Youth Welding Challenge in November last year, Philippus Terblanche, Samukelo Mbambani and Nonhlanhla Angel Mathebula have again been demonstrating their welding skills, this time at the WorldSkills SA competition held at the Durban ICC from February 14 to 16, 2017.

Terblanche again emerged as the winner, which makes him South Africa’s candidate for the WorldSkills International Competition in Abu Dhabi in October this year. Terblanche is a product of ArcelorMittal’s training school in Vanderbijlpark, which uses a programme based on the IIW International Welder (IW) curriculum. “SAIW trained Peet Lottering, ArcelorMittal’s welder training manager, and we are assisting the school towards becoming an SAIW Authorised Training Body (ATB),” says Nell.

Angel Mathebula won the aluminium category and took second place overall for welding at WorldSkills SA. Mathebula is one of the immediate successes of the SAIW Foundation. She has since been employed by Afrox and put her onto a sponsored career development programme.

Mbambani, who finished second in the SAIW Youth Challenge last year and third at WorldSkills SA, is also a product of ArcelorMittal welder training.

Philippus will be going to Abu Dhabi. He will now undergo an intensive six-month training programme specifically for the competition.

“He will remain at the ArcelorMittal training school, but he will be focusing on WorldSkills-type welding projects that I will be assessing every week,” Nell tells African Fusion.

“He will also come up to JHB for a one month intensive aluminium programme under the supervision of Aluminium Federation of South Africa’s (AFSA’s) welding consultant, Eduan Terblanche,” he adds.

WorldsSkills SA was established about two or three years ago, originally as one of Merseta’s portfolios. “But it has now been taken over by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), under the watchful eye of Deputy Minister Mduduzi Manana,” says Nell.

Our chances in Abu Dhabi? “There was a huge improvement in the standards being achieved at the WorldSkills SA competition this year, because the candidates received appropriate training in advance of the competition. Following the SAIW Welding Challenge, the training supervisors met to discuss the shortcomings and to establish a training programme to address them. As a result, I would say there was a 60% improvement in the point scores between last year’s SAIW Welding Challenge and the February WorldSkills SA event,” Nell notes.

Along with the additional training planned for Terblanche in preparation for WorldSkills International, Nell is “very confident that he will return from Abu Dhabi with a medal of excellence”.

“I would like to thank all of our supporters and sponsors for the SAIW Youth and Senior Welding Challenges that led up to this event. And for WorldSkills SA, special thanks go to Lincoln Electric for sponsoring the welding bay equipment and the consumables. They came to the party 100%, giving us everything we needed to run the competition successfully,” says Nell.

A new vehicle for artisan training

As well as lending his personal support for WorldSkills, Deputy Minister Manana is championing an expanded role for the TVET colleges, which he sees as the best vehicle for artisan development and trade testing.

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