Bellville Workshop Apprentices Set for Skilled Artisans' Careers
The Bellville Mechanical Workshop apprentice training scheme dates back to 1966, but fell into disuse under the ANC. Minister Carlisle, conscious of the critical shortage of highly skilled technicians in SA, instructed in 2009 that it was to be resuscitated, and the first new intake of 8 diesel mechanic apprentices commenced in 2010.
The programme takes four years, and is highly technical and very demanding. With tool-making, it is considered the highest level of mechanical skills. The practical work is complimented by further education to the level of NTC 5 at Northlink College. The programme receives an annual budget of R1.25 million to run the programme, and has trained 27 apprentices since 2010; with another 8 expected to join the programme this year.
"We are in dire need of essential artisans' skills that are sorely lacking in the most vital fields. Much of our own skilled workforce is fast approaching retirement age. The investment in those skills through programmes like this one can only be to the benefit of the economy of this province. Ploughing back into young people and giving them opportunities to better themselves, and live lives of value and purpose, is a priority of the department as well as this administration," said Minister Carlisle.
Foundation training, focussing on basic mechanic fundamentals, is presented and taught at the Mechanical Training School throughout the participants time spent as apprentices. Practical training consists of all areas of practice in the Diesel Mechanic Trade, taught in a live environment where lessons can immediately be put into practice both at the Bellville Workshop, as well as at other field workshops managed by the department.
The extra areas of exposure and training which all the apprentices received include:
- General repairs to earthmoving machinery.
- Servicing and maintenance of road construction machinery.
- Ground engaging tools and implements.
- Basic welding.
- Basic fitting and turning.
- Basic spray painting.
"All of our apprentices also attend technical colleges, like Northlink College, where they achieve the various training levels of the National Technical Certificate (NTC), which, coupled with the invaluable practical training received as part of the programme, places them leaps and bounds above others in their field without the same level of practical training. The skills that they attain through the programme have them in high demand, even with private sector employers who realise the value added by this programme, in the skilled professionals that emerge from it," added Carlisle.
The programme’s 2010 intake has produced the likes of El-Nico Louw, who received a special award from Northlink College for his exceptional pass in the NTC 3, and Ashwald Joseph and Anrich Waterboer, who have, since participating in the programme, both passed their qualifying trade tests and are now diesel mechanics. The rest of the eight apprentices who began the programme in 2010 have dates set for their trade tests and are currently practicing with a mock-test set up at the Mechanical Training School. They are: Grant Cloete, Aubrey Ruiters, Chad Schroeder, Jason Standish, and Frans van der Merwe. Last year, the programme welcomed its first female apprentice named Jay van Oord, with others expected to join the programme in the future.
"There is no doubt to me that they too, like those that have come before them and those that will follow, will excel in their respective tests and turn the opportunities that they have been given, into careers that will continue to propel them forward," added Carlisle.