Welding and cutting are essential skills within manufacturing, which is a sector that may hold significant opportunities for uplifting South Africa’s economy and decreasing the unemployment rate, says PFERD South Africa training manager Marius Steyn.
Statistics South Africa recently released its Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the first quarter of 2021, indicating South Africa’s unemployment rate increased to 32.6%, or 7.2-million, unemployed people — an all-time high.
During his delivery of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan in October 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke about the need to expand South Africa’s manufacturing sector as well as related exports.
“We currently import around R1.1-trillion of goods (excluding oil) each year. If we were to manufacture just 10% of these goods locally, it is estimated that we could add two percentage points to our annual gross domestic product,” he explained.
The Southern Africa Institute of Welding estimates that as much as 80% of South Africa’s manufactured products and maintenance require welding, offering aspiring welders as well as cutting and grinding operators, employment opportunities.
Welding being involved in so much of the manufacturing industry is good news for operators in the cutting and grinding industry. Whenever a job involves welding, materials need cutting or surfaces require preparation and, therefore, the demand for skilled operators of grinding and cutting equipment is also needed.
A study conducted by the American Welding Society indicates that welding is a cost- effective way of joining metal and will continue to see increased use in the future – especially in emerging economies.
Leading developer, producer and distributor of tool solutions for surface preparation, finishing and cutting PFERD South Africa national sales manager Dennis Phillips explains that one industry spills over to another. “Before welding, a surface requires preparation and once the welding is complete, the weld seam needs cleaning, and in many cases complete removal — in this way providing opportunities for specialist grinding and cutting operators”.
PFERD identified the need for specialised training within the abrasives industry. It upgraded its Training Centre in 2016 to a state-of-the-art training academy where experienced staff from the world of grinding and cutting give application-based training, practical workshops and even training using digital channels.
“At the PFERD Academy, based at PFERD South Africa’s head office in Kempton Park, Gauteng, we believe that continuous operator training on the correct use of abrasive consumables enhances their performance and plays a direct role in the efficient use of equipment,” says PFERD South Africa training manager Marius Steyn.
Steyn explains the aim is to impart technical know-how and offer solutions to operators of grinding and cutting tools so that the consequences of using incorrect machinery for an application are fully understood.
The PFERD Academy’s application specialists are available to do on-site assessments, advise customers about their specific application, and provide them with the optimum product and machine combination to ensure the ideal and most cost-effective solution.