The WorldSkills SA competition was held in Durban last month and we are very pleased with the organisation of the event and the results. Philippus Terblanche, who won our SAIW Youth Welding Challenge last year, again emerged as the winner. Congratulations to him, but also to the other two candidates, Angel Mathebula, a product of the SAIW Foundation, and Samukelo Mbambani who, like Philippus, comes from ArcelorMittal’s welder training school.

Sean BlakeWe also need to extend our gratitude to both Lincoln Electric and Afrox who aided and supported SAIW in providing equipment, consumables and valuable assistance to make the event the success it was from a welding industry perspective.

We are also particularly pleased with the support and importance now being placed on the competition by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). Progress is being made to expand artisan skills and to improve the quality of artisan training and evaluation in South Africa. The education department is now convinced that learners need start to become skilled at a younger age. This makes TVET colleges and technical high schools the best delivery channels.

For this to succeed, close collaboration is required between industry and government. We need a strong focus on resourcing colleges with workshops and equipment so that appropriate quality practical training can take place. SAIW members have shown time and again – through both direct sponsorships and by giving of their time and experience – that they are willing to support skills development in the welding industry. The SAIW is keen to assist the department and individual TVET colleges to promote welding to our youth, which we believe is a miracle career.

The second group of six SAIW Foundation students has now started on the IIW International Welder programme at SAIW. In this regard, we are pleased to have secured industry cooperation, through ArcelorMittal, to support the training programme at the SAIW. In addition, the experiential training for these students will take place at ArcelorMittal sites.

We see this as a model programme for high-level welding skills development. All four of last years’ students are now IIW International Welders. Most notably, Angel Mathebula, as well as being the star performer in the aluminium category at WorldSkills SA, has been employed by an SAIW member and placed on a fast-track career development programme. Another graduate, George Shongwe, has now joined the boiler maintenance programme and is doing remarkably well – welding with exceptionally low defect rates compared to norms. These two youngsters are proof of the effectiveness of the IIW International Welder programme.

The replacement course for SAIW Inspector Level 1 qualifications is now up and running and all future students will now receive the IIW Welding Inspector - Basic Level certificates. The IIW’s International Welding Inspection Personnel (IWIP) suite of courses aligns with international standards and, by adopting them, qualifications awarded by SAIW will be valid around the world.

We continue to involve and support industry to raise standards by providing relevant value-adding services, through our certification schemes, training, technical support and testing and laboratory services. In addition, SAIW is striving to promote professional growth and social networking opportunities, through our evening meetings and golf days, for example.

We are also planning to hold an International Conference in 2018 and we are already seeking volunteers from industry, academia and government to be part of the organising committee. We look forward to hearing from people willing to assist.

Sean Blake

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Crown Publications, one of South Africa’s largest business-to-business publishing houses, came into existence in 1986. Since then, the company has grown from producing a single magazine, Electricity SA (renamed Electricity+Control), to publishing six monthly magazines, three quarterlies, and a number of engineering handbooks.

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