A lack of government funding is exacerbating the shortage of skilled coating technologists and accredited paint applicators, says paint industry representative South African Paint Manufacturing Association (Sapma) executive director Deryck Spence.
The Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (Chieta) has rejected Sapma’s grant applications numerous times in the past year, citing a lack of funds as the reason, he tells Engineering News.
He notes that Sapma has been urging its members to apply for funding, as they are entitled to do so.
There are few coating technologists operating in South Africa, which is concerning, as these people are responsible for the assessment, development, reformulation, quality, maintenance and enhancement of products through the planning, executing and analysis of experiments. Spence advances that the medium to larger manufacturers have qualified chemists to develop their products; however, the smaller companies do not have qualified chemists and have to rely on technical support from raw material suppliers or consulting chemists.
He states that the Department of Higher Education and Training is focused on reducing unemployment and uplifting youth with no work experience; and because of this Chieta is focused on providing funding for the unemployed to be trained as applicators.
Sapma fully supports job creation at lower skill levels; however, in declining to provide grants for the training of technologists to advance the industry – which is where the funds were supposed to go – the training authorities are not taking into account that, without technology, there would not be paint to generate an income for applicators, Spence warns.
“In South Africa, Sapma’s training of paint technologists has produced several highly qualified individuals, including many young men and women from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. By withholding grants for the training of paint chemists, government is not only stifling technological growth in an essential industry but also holding back transformation,” he points out.
Further, the lack of accredited paint applicators is creating issues in terms of shoddy workmanship. Spence notes that research indicates that 86% of all paint failures locally are directly attributed to the lack of skills of the applicator and the lack of preparation of the substrate or area to be painted.
Sapma has suggested to Chieta that it will train unemployed people as applicators and provide them a certificate of competence. The organisation would provide the theoretical education and contractors would offer practical experience, after which individuals can write a trade test and become accredited applicators.