In an effort to replace the old N-level courses previously offered by former further education and training colleges, the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (Pamsa), in partnership with the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing (FP&M) sector education and training authority (Seta) and the Umfolozi technical and vocational education and training (TVET) college has developed a long-distance study programme – the Pulp and Paper Occupational Programme (PPOP) – for full-time employees.
Pamsa has also developed a National Certificate Vocational programme, which is similar to the PPOP but is a full-time course offered by various TVET colleges for full-time learners who are not employees in the pulp and paper sector. Pamsa executive director Jane Molony tells Engineering News that, through this programme, new TVET college graduates can enter the paper, chemicals and sugar industries, enabling them to grow further in the industry.
She states that one of the association’s most important roles is to make available an education support service team and lecturers, which subsequently allows for distance learning. These lecturers also go to mills to help students who are studying part-time.
Molony says Pamsa supports the Ekurhuleni and Umfolozi colleges, in particular, adding that the organisation puts in a lot of effort to meet the demand for skills and education in the pulp and paper industry as demand for better skills increases.
“We have a ladder of learning, with financial assistance from our FP&M Seta, and we are also reformulating the curricula of some of our courses to comply with Quality Council for Trades & Occupations (QCTO) standards,” says Molony, adding that Pamsa is currently managing various education-related projects that will benefit the pulp and paper industry, the latest being the development of new QCTO qualifications.
Meanwhile, Paper and Recycling Association of South Africa (Prasa) operations director Ursula Henneberry says the paper industry’s alliances and partnerships with various educational institutions, such as the FP&M Seta, have reaped exceptional rewards in many aspects, but mainly education and training.
“We would not have been able to promote paper recycling or assist the development of small, medium-size and microenterprises (SMMEs) to the extent that we have, were it not for annual funding received from the FP&M Seta”, she says.
Henneberry explains that such funding has enabled Prasa to initiate, develop and execute an entrepreneurship course aimed at providing relevant paper recylcing training as well as introductory business training. This four-day course equips ordinary South Africans with the necessary skills required to venture into the business environment, be it a recycling business or a home baking or dressmaking business, for example.
Henneberry points out that recycling supports job creation and helps mitigate poverty. In recent years, the FP&M Seta’s focus has been on rural development where the course often needs to be presented in the town’s mother tongue and this is where Prasa’s trainer has proved to be invaluable owing to his ability to speak six South African languages.
Prasa is obliged to provide evidence that shows the grant is being spent on educating South Africans to promote small business ownership.
The grant has enabled Prasa to improve what it has to offer, such as employing a person who speaks various indigenous languages – at least five or six – which enables Prasa members to visit more provinces in South Africa and teach the recycling message.
The association adds that municipalities across South Africa have requested training, including municipalities in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape.
Henneberry points out, however, that many municipalities realise that far more needs to be done to stimulate community interest in recycling. This is particularly apparent in the Mossel Bay area, where Prasa has offered to assist the municipality in its education and awareness activities by holding roadshows in George, Eden, Mossel Bay and Moreesburg schools and communities.
Moreover, Molony tells Engineering News that the Department of Science and Technology’s sector innovation fund has invested in the paper industry to boost research. The aim is to develop local intellectual property on which to build competitiveness and to promote innovation and a healthier South African economy.
She highlights that, despite paper and plastic being different forms of packaging that serve different purposes, they work well together when it comes to recycling.
From a sustainability perspective, the pulp and paper sector employs 149 000 people who work across the value chain from planting trees to pulp and paper manufacture.
Molony points out that paper mills in South Africa provide support for their host communities through recycling entrepreneurship programmes in cities and rural municipalities.