The future workforce should not be so demanding

World peace – The end of hunger – The education of our children and the future workforce – The continuing betterment of our employees, our businesses and ourselves. Who in their right mind wouldn’t find all of the above to be worthy pursuits and grand goals for society as a whole and the foundry industry in particular?

A story further on in the magazine covers the imminent retirement of one of the well known, jovial and hard working foundrymen in our industry – John Bryson. His ‘obituary’, as I joked with him, highlights various aspects of his journey. But more importantly it highlights his experience of being mentored and furthering his education. All industries need candidates to take over from these ‘old bullets’ as they slowly leave our industry. The knowledge and experience in an industry is built up over time and cannot be fast tracked. Achieving these goals requires not only a coordinated commitment to education and research programs from the engineering, science, and technology sectors, but also requires an effective networking of these academic and industrial concerns for a qualified work force. Continuing education can achieve these goals but it also needs the commitment from the workforce if an individual is to better his/her standing in life.

John certainly did benefit. “I was mentored by two colleagues and they encouraged me to start studying again and I thank them for doing so. This paid dividends as I became the youngest Section Manager and the rest is history.”

The SAIF and its partners have successfully set up the Gauteng Foundry Training Centre, just one of many initiatives that have been implemented to tackle the need for skills development and education in the foundry industry. Twenty apprentices started their training at the GFTC in January 2014

The apprenticeship programmes consist of the three components – melter, moulder and patternmaker, which will be presented over a period of 12 months each. In order to qualify the students will have to pass all the modules, which will include knowledge, practical and workplace skills pertaining to each trade. The pilot group of 2014 students selected will have their course fee sponsored by the MerSETA. Students will also receive a stipend during their work experience phase to be conducted at foundries.

However I have reliably learnt that, despite having their course fees sponsored, they (the 20 students) were unhappy that they would not receive a stipend while studying, only during their work experience phase. I know the amount of money being demanded every month is relatively small, but this did not change the fact that I was left speechless. We all know what it costs these days for tertiary education and the amount of applicants far outstrips the positions available. But if this is what our youth, or should I say these chosen few and not generalise, have stooped to then we have major problems ahead. The demands are only going to get bigger and ultimately make companies less profitable and the country uncompetitive, if it isn’t already!