In the first corporate-academic partnership of its kind, consumer goods manufacturer Unilever South Africa and Wits, have announced a collaborative skills development programme that aims to provide promising engineering students with practical work experience and a premium academic qualification.
Engineering News’s Natalie Greve attended the launch of the programme at Unilever’s Khanyisa factory to find out more.
As part of the flagship initiative, which was supported by statutory body, the Chemical Industries Education & Training Authority (Chieta), 30 Wits Engineering students that had completed their second or third year of study would this year be employed full-time at Unilever’s new R1.4-billion Khanyisa plant, on Johannesburg’s East Rand.
The students would form part of the factory operations team for the duration of their year of employment, providing them practical exposure to the production process and an opportunity to develop their technical and problem-solving skills.
To ensure academic continuity, a lecturer would be appointed by Wits, on behalf of Unilever, to supervise and monitor the students for the 12-month period they were employed, as well as for their remaining one or two years of study at Wits to complete their qualification once they had completed their work experience.
The lecturer would be responsible for ensuring students continued to be exposed to academic content and material while working to ensure a seamless transition back into academia in 2017.
Wits School of Mechanical, Industrial and Aeronautical Engineering head Prof Robert Reid:
Commenting on the programme, which would be rolled out to other Unilever facilities should it prove successful, head of manufacturing for Unilever in South Africa and Southern Africa Sandeep Desai asserted, at the launch, that the company’s over R4-billion investment in local manufacturing capacity would prove worthless if the skills to operate factories were largely absent.
Unilever head of manufacturing South Africa/Southern Africa Sandeep Desai:
Other news making headlines this week:
The Chinese economic slump is not the precursor to Africa’s demise
And, people to talk to their cars following Volvo, Microsoft deal
While Africa-friendly China’s economic growth languishes at 25-year lows, Standard Bank joint CEO Sim Tshabalala says the transition from an investment-led to a consumption-based growth model could spell good news for the continent in the longer term.
Standard Bank joint CEO Sim Tshabalala:
Vehicle manufacturer Volvo Cars and technology group Microsoft are launching a voice control system that will allow Volvo owners to talk to their cars using the Microsoft Band 2 wearable device.
You can now watch Volvo’s video which demonstrates how the technology works.
That’s Creamer Media’s Real Economy Report. Join us again next week for more news and insight into South Africa’s real economy.