Black-owned artisan training academy Ikhaya Fundisa Techniskills Academy (IFTA), based in Gauteng, will be assisting farm equipment manufacturer John Deere to train its artisans as it rolls out dealership and distribution outlets in Central Africa.
John Deere marketing manager Carel Theron says this continuous expansion, which started at the end of 2009, will increase the manufacturer’s market presence in Africa and will be underpinned by a major focus on training.
He says the company will expand, through dealers and distributors, into the whole of Central Africa.
“We have invested in a bigger workforce and two regional offices in East and West Africa, in Accra, Ghana, and Nairobi, Kenya,” he explains.
Most of the investment will be provided for by the dealer in terms of facilities and staff, while the company will echo this expansion by having a direct presence in each country where it is represented.
Theron says that, because of the skills shortage in South Africa, training is one of the key focuses in the expansion into the rest of the continent.
IFTA was chosen for the venture because of its long-standing relationship with John Deere.
The acadamy’s role in the expansion is to ensure that the dealerships are well-skilled, that they are able to meet the demands and expectations of their local markets and that they are well-positioned to represent the John Deere brand.
IFTA director Sean Jones says the academy’s initial task is to evaluate all technicians in terms of education, skills and experi- ences, compared with technicians currently deployed in South Africa.
“Once this is done, we will carry out the necessary training and qualify them with an IFTA-backed qualification,” concludes Jones.