A top performing Afrox welder, Houston Isaacs, recently returned from participating in the WorldSkills competition in Leipzig, Germany. This follows Isaacs being named the winner of the South African Institute of Welding’s (SAIW) Young Welder of the Year competition earlier in 2013.
“We’re very proud of Houston’s achievements and delighted that he is counted among our employee body,” says Afrox Business Manager, Manufacturing Industries, Johann Pieterse. “Afrox has been fortunate enough to attract and cultivate talent of this calibre and we’re committed to supporting the development of many other talented young welding artisans in South Africa by giving back to the industry.”
Thembinkosi Matyeka, winner of the 2005 Young Welder of the Year competition, who also participated in the WorldSkills competition that year, was offered employment by Afrox in 2012 and helped to prepare Houston for his endeavours in the WorldSkills competition.
“The shortage of skilled welders in South Africa able to work to local and international standards is well documented and, in many cases, local industry has had to rely on importing skilled welders to meet local demand. At the same time, the numbers of new young welders produced by other informal institutions are too low to meet the demand brought about by projects such as the Strategic Infrastructure Projects.
“This is being aggravated by the fact that technical schools often lack the necessary equipment, skills and support to ensure that students who enter FET (Further Education and Training) colleges are at the appropriate standard to obtain the welding qualifications that will be offered.”
Afrox has identified three primary solutions to address this situation and has already implemented initiatives to realise these objectives:
· Creating awareness of welding as a career opportunity and an own business.
· Strengthening the capacity of Technical Schools to support the implementation of the new
curriculum in 2015
· Making bursaries and internships available to welding students.
As a leading welding process expert Afrox, in partnership with key stakeholders, is focusing the full force of its Corporate Social Investment efforts for 2013 — and beyond — to develop local welding capability.
Afrox has held meetings with the Department of Basic Education (DBE): Directorate Partnerships, to discuss issues pertaining to the state of Technical High Schools in South Africa and also to explore possibilities for a partnership aimed at improving the performance of these schools, with a specific focus on welding.
In addition, Afrox has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) to make a significant contribution towards the improvement of Technical Education in welding in Grades 10 – 12 in the schools identified jointly by Afrox and GDE. Through this MoU, Afrox will provide specifications for the establishment of safe welding centres in selected Technical High Schools in Gauteng and furbish these centres. Afrox will also work with the SAIW to train welding teachers and Education Specialists within the GDE to help support the technical rollout.
Afrox is aligning its process safety training with the National Qualifications Framework in order to have this training registered as a short course and allow customers’ employees to obtain credits by attending this training.
The National Business Initiative (NBI) has been commissioned by Afrox to conduct a survey to determine the extent of the shortage of welders and the specific nature of these shortages. The survey is also intended to establish whether there is training in place to ensure that these shortages can be addressed, and to specifically understand the role that FET Colleges currently, and potentially, could play.
The NBI’s Makano Morojele says: “In commissioning the survey and entering into an MoU with the GDE, Afrox is not only generating new knowledge that will benefit the welding sector broadly, but is also demonstrating a practical response to enhancing the skills levels of welding teachers. This will help to improve the quality of provision and responsiveness to industry needs. A partnership between Afrox, GDE and the NBI sets an example of a Public Private Partnership that can be replicated in other sectors of the economy.”
All this has resulted in a project team-type relationship developing between the GDE, Afrox, the NBI and the SAIW. Pieterse says Afrox is partnering with the SAIW as the vehicle to deliver support, since the two organisations share the same objectives for the industry.
Afrox sponsors the Young Welder of the Year competition financially and by conducting machinery repairs, making support technicians available on the day of the competition and by allocating welding mentors.
“Afrox is not only focusing on the skills shortage – we’re also committed to introducing new technology that will advance the welding industry and elevate it to world standards,” says Nazmi Adams, head of the company’s Hardgoods division. “To this end we’ve designed and built a state-of-the-art assembly facility at our Germiston-based Gas Equipment Factory.
“The factory’s unique ‘Y-cell’ configuration employs several lean manufacturing principles to ensure that product quality and process reliability is optimised and productivity is enhanced. Semi-automated assembly and testing processes combined with poke yoke fixture designs facilitate in-line quality checking on each assembly. The inclusion of front-line operators in the industrialisation phases allowed for the incorporation of first-hand learning's into the process.
“By way of an example of the kind of technology emerging from this facility — from random sketches to first production, an innovative new gas regulator was recently introduced to the market. The SMOOTHFLO™ regulator is already being hailed as the most technologically advanced and engineered gas pressure regulator in the global industrial market.”
“Afrox is working with the DTI to develop a range of innovative welding products that will establish Afrox and South Africa as a leading player in this field. Our new globally experienced teams allow for rapid technology and skills transfer into South Africa which is a key agenda for the DTI. Skills development is critical for South Africa and Afrox wants to be at the forefront of that agenda”, says Adams.
Issued by: Serendipity Events, Promotions & Exhibitions
On behalf of: Afrox
Editorial contact: Loll Thomson (011) 467 2133
Mail to: loll@
Client contact: Johann Pieterse / Nazmi Adams
Date: 28 September 2013