What is in store for the SAIF?

Besides taxes and death one other inevitable happening is change. In all walks of life, whether it be at the workplace or just at home, changes in your circumstances are constantly happening, even more so in this fluid world that we live in these days. Change is almost unavoidable and in some cases is expected and predicted.

The South African Institute of Foundrymen is currently going through a period where there have been changes in management and funding mechanisms. The CEO that has been in place for the last seven years has retired and the position is now taken up by an Executive Director. At the recently held AGM of the SAIF there were changes in the Board of Directors and a new Chairperson has been appointed (see story further on in the magazine) to head up the SAIF.

It has also emerged that the very successful training programme initiative that the SAIF introduced and ran and which was partly funded by the National Foundry Technology Network (NFTN) could come under strain because the NFTN no longer exists as a separate entity as we knew it. The NFTN is supposedly now ‘hosted’ by the CSIR. Even the last Project Leader of the NFTN up and left so he must have seen what was coming.

As a result the dti funding that was available for skills training has dried up. This is despite the amount that was allocated to the SAIF in the last financial year being reduced to less than one third of what was previously allocated.

The SAIF has therefore reached a position where it was seven years ago with no income stream of note that could help to sustain the employment of a CEO. In fact the appointment of a CEO by the SAIF was one of the preconditions of securing the funding from the dti/NFTN. Now that the funding has dried up it leaves the SAIF in a precarious position as there are no alternative income sources that can realistically warrant running a full time office. Sure, there are reserves according to the latest audited financial result. But these reserves are not limitless and will soon run out if an alternative source of funding is not found. Although no figures are available it is rumoured that the recent WFO Technical Forum / MCC conference / BRICS Foundry Forum hosted in South Africa by the SAIF, made a loss and this will have to be paid out of the surpluses.

Currently the only income source for the SAIF is annual subscriptions from members and small surpluses that are made on the social functions such as the annual golf day and awards evening. Measures have been put in place by the SAIF to continue offering the short courses that were previously subsidised and industry recognised and participated in. But the cost to attend one of these courses has now more than doubled all because of the “pulling of the funding” of a very successful initiative and one that industry certainly bought into. Even at current levels of participation in the short courses, the income derived from this and then added to the other surpluses is not enough to run the SAIF office at current expenses occurred.

The CSIR website that gives the blurb on the NFTN say: “The aim of the NFTN is to facilitate the development of a globally competitive foundry industry in South Africa through appropriate skills training, technology transfer and diffusion of state-of-the-art technologies in close collaboration with existing industry associations.”

Well this is not happening at the moment and I can only imagine that our hard earned tax money that should be going towards uplifting and upskilling our industry, and did do so for several years, is now being used as another funding source for the CSIR. Granted this might change going forward but it is highly unlikely.