Awards spark welding career call
Welding as a career needs to be promoted to young people in South Africa and business needs to take the lead, says sub-Saharan Africa’s leading industrial gases and welding equipment supplier, Afrox.Currently, South Africa continues to struggle with a shortage of young people training to qualify as welders and this isn’t helped by a shortage of qualified welding instructors, confirms Johann Pieterse, Afrox Business Manager for Manufacturing Industries.
“Welding is involved in most of the steel manufacturing applications in South Africa today which makes it a critical skill,” says Pieterse. “This is why Afrox is committed to investing in the education of our young people with an emphasis on welding.”“Qualified welders today can command good salaries and due to the current shortages, provides for attractive job creation. Welding is only the start. Many careers such as welding inspectors, coordinators, management, sales, engineering and NDT develop from welding,” says Pieterse.
“Afrox’s sponsorship of the Stainless Steel Awards Student Category is part of our commitment to the welding industry and to encourage our youth to consider this as a recognised profession in a time of seriously high unemployment,” says Pieterse. At the recent Stainless Steel Awards, 23-year-old Jaco van Deventer received the Afrox-sponsored trophy in the Student Category for welding. He has also previously won the Stainless Steel Category of the YWOY competition.
Jaco, who is now a welding training instructor with engineering firm Steinmüller, a member of the Billfinger Group, says: “The best way for young people to get into welding is through an apprenticeship, which is how I started out my career. “The hours are normal working hours for the most part and the pay is good – many of the welders I know drive around in BMWs these days!”
Jaco, a previous winner of the local welding industry's Young Welder of the Year competition and World Skills Competition held in Sao Paulo in 2015, advises there are many apprenticeships available with companies but intakes only tend to be once a year. More information is available from the Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW), says Jaco.
SAIW is currently working with government organisations, such as the South African Qualifications Authority and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations, to further develop its courses so that they are aligned with local requirements and international standards. Pieterse says that developing skills across industries will play a key role in developing South Africa’s economy and creating welding artisans locally will increase opportunities within the country’s workforce.
“Afrox launched its first Tertiary Welding Facility in partnership with PopUp, at the new Community House Building Training Centre. The aim of the Soshanguve-based facility is to support various technical upskilling programmes with an emphasis on welding as an in-demand route to a sustainable career,” explains Pieterse.
“This will be supported by our developed training programmes, focused on skills development that will contribute to a formal qualification. Going forward we will establish continuity by training instructors and partnering with like-minded organisations, such as SAIW, to ensure that we continue to develop welders trained to International Welding Standards, creating jobs,” he adds.
Afrox has partnered with the Department of Education, supporting its Technical School Recap programme under Mechanical Technology. The Afrox-supported strategy is focused on de-mothballing welding facilities, equipping them with advanced technology equipment and upskilling educators to facilitate training. To date Afrox has upgraded and equipped 14 technical schools nationally, trained more than 40 teachers in the four main welding processes and communicated the importance of technical skills qualifications at selected launches in the major provinces.
African Oxygen Limited (Afrox) is sub-Saharan Africa’s market leader in gases and welding products. Afrox was founded in 1927, listed on the JSE in 1963, and has prospered by constantly meeting the needs of customers and developing solutions that add value to customer applications. Afrox operates in South Africa and in ten other African countries. It also manages operations in five additional countries on behalf of its parent company, The Linde Group - a global gases, engineering and technology company.
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Business Manager for Manufacturing Industries
Phone: (011) 255-5703
Cell: 071 365 2838
Phone: (011) 867 7763
Fax: 086 512 3352
Cell: 072 626 7401