Electrical equipment supplier Zest WEG Group, a subsidiary of Brazilian motor and controls manufacturer WEG, this year invested R1.5-million in the 200 m2 training centre at its Johannesburg office, where it offers training that earns the company’s employees and users of its products continuing professional development (CPD) points.
The training centre has a full-time training officer and it is sector education and training authority-accredited. Further, it has been registered with the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers and the Engineering Council of South Africa.
About 848 people have passed through the doors of the training centre so far this year, with a total of about 5 500, since it was established six years ago, explains Zest WEG Group CEO Louis Meiring.
“When we opened the centre, we started by offering what we believed were the areas most in need of skills development, which was our automation and drives division, comprising a lot of electronic equipment that is more complex than general electric products. It so happened that our initial foray into training was extremely successful.
“Part of our success is owed to the decision taken by Zest WEG Group to not charge its customers for such training and instead regard it as a means of adding value. “We perceived the need in industry and realised it would be an immensely positive step for us to add value to our end-users rather than trying to make a business out of it,” he expands.
Meiring adds that the company believes training is a fundamental business that adds value to customers’ business, while it also keeps sales staff apprised of the latest trends and developments and helps nurture the next generation of talented youngsters.
“The training centre helps us align our staff, from sales to technical, administrative and support, to fully understand our business. “This means that anyone can assist customers as everyone has a basic understanding of the business.”
Meiring stresses that training is not a marketing tool. He adds: “We do not use the training as leverage to sell our products or technologies, instead we use the opportunity after the training has been concluded to interact with our customers."
In the 2013 financial year, Zest WEG Group donated in excess of R2-million worth of products to training schools, colleges and other educational institutions. The company also provides bursaries for promising BSc graduates and learnership opportunities for engineering technicians and apprentices.
“We started with this initiative last year, and are already training the third group now. “That is going quite well, and we have had some good success in terms of people who have qualified as engineering technicians and artisans. “We are looking forward to, hopefully, our first two BSc engineers as well,” Meiring concludes.