In partnership with the Department of Military Veterans (DMV), privately owned defence and aerospace manufacturer Paramount Group announced in September that it would establish a multimillion-rand high-technical-skills development programme, aimed at advancing the South African defence industry and enabling the group to meet its future growth plans.
Young descendants of military veterans, identified by the DMV, will work with Paramount Group employees, through a programme of bursaries for tertiary education placements and on-the-job apprenticeships, to ensure the group’s knowledge and skills are passed on to the next generation of South Africans.
The programme, which supports Paramount Group’s existing internal initiative to invest in its current workforce, is funded by the Paramount Group Trust and ensures that a third of all company profits made in South Africa is spent on education and skills development for descendants of military veterans.
Paramount Group’s skills development programme was established in response to a need – identified by the Paramount Group Trust and the DMV – to ensure the defence industry’s sustainability by creating an opportunity for industry members to transfer core skills to the next generation.
“Veterans have made a huge contribution to this country and need to be recognised and valued for the role they have played. It is our obligation to support their descendants and give them an opportunity to secure their own futures and make a contribution to the future of this industry,” says Paramount Group executive chairperson Ivor Ichikowitz.
Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Kebby Maphatsoe further states that the South African defence industry is generally characterised by an ageing workforce, which is why skills transfer – conducted in a long-term, structured and controlled manner that benefits the entire country – is important.
“Through this programme and in partnership with the Paramount Group Trust, there will be an investment in skills, which will uplift the military veterans’ family units who have, until now, been neglected by the industry,” says Maphatsoe.
Those taking part in the programme will be equipped with the highly technical knowledge-based skills valued by Paramount.
The first of the veterans’ descendants will support Paramount Group’s recently announced growth plans for the naval industry, which involves establishing a shipbuilding business with an order book value in excess of R1-billion, as well as the acquisition of South African aerospace company Aerosud’s military business and the establishment of a robotics unit.
Meanwhile, Paramount Group Trust chairperson Dr Matthews Phosa highlights that military veterans have been key in the successful transformation of South Africa.
“This initiative will go a long way in recognising the role of military veterans, enabling their descendants to benefit from the sacrifices they made, to build a future for themselves and to play a role in driving this strategic industry forward,” says Phosa.
Paramount Group believes that the growth of a diversified and sophisticated defence industry is a key component of government’s Industrial Development Plan. The defence industry should encompass a range of advanced research and innovation capabilities, specialised design and engineering expertise, project management services, and many other disciplines, to make the defence industry a productive incubator for the industrialisation of the South African economy.
About Paramount Group
Paramount Group is Africa’s largest privately owned defence and aerospace business. It considers itself a leader in defence and security innovation and is a trusted partner of sovereign governments worldwide, providing products, services and consulting services, as well as support for peacekeeping missions.