Metalworking firm, Castweld’s director Patrick Anderson claims to be fighting a losing battle with the manufacturing, engineering and related services training authority (Merseta).
In October 2005, Engineering News reportedon Merseta allegedly not fulfilling its duty of supporting Castweld as a structure for in-house training.
Anderson says that more than a year has passed and, to date, nothing has been done to aid the company.
“We have much value to offer the South African market if we have the proper skills that arerequired,” says Anderson.
He adds that the “continued unsupport” has restricted the growth of the training programme immensely.
However, in response to the allegations made against Merseta, communications officerThamsanqa Malinga tells Engineering News that the organisations vehemently denies theallegations made by Anderson.
“Merseta representative Lulamile Mnyanda met with Anderson, providing him with copiesof the Saqa registration qualification in the welding practice which he did not cover in his learning practice and was falling short of in the requirements,” adds Malinga.
He remarks that Mnyanda requested that Anderson forward the content of his trainingmaterial and the Merseta standards generatingbody (SGB) coordinator subsequently com-mented that the material was based on SABS welding processes rather than on unit standards.
“Mnyanda has kept constant contact with Anderson and his last visit to his offices was in June 2006. In that visit it is reported that Anderson appreciated all the efforts made by Mnyanda in helping him and further indicated that he wasno longer interested in what Merseta isoffering because he has shifted his focus toentertain an offer from Botswana,” concludes Malinga.
Castweld has, in the last year, trained andqualified three aluminium ASME IX welders and overseen 18 ASME IX welder certifications on behalf of one of its larger clients.
“This year, we assisted with the training of two aluminium welders and developed a weldtechnique in cast iron for a component being manufactured in South Africa and exported to Russia,” remarks Anderson.
Castweld, which has been in existence for11 years, is involved in the repair support ofaluminium, cast iron, magnesium, stainless steel, aluminium bronze and silicon bronze.
One of Castweld’s main aims involves the training of workers on site, which includestroubleshooting welding techniques.
According to Anderson, despite what he views as a disappointing response from Merseta, the company is still very involved with trainingwelders throughout South Africa, as well as in neighbouring states.
“We have had meetings upon meetings and are wasting our time as we are not achieving anything with Merseta. Aluminium welding is experiential, training is costly and time is running out. We have people looking for jobs and we have the ability to rectify this problem and create work, as well as support the South African industry, so why is it not being done?” questions Anderson.
“In specialised welding, and specificallyaluminium, there is a shortage of competentwelders and, if the proper training is not given, experienced welders will be imported from overseas. This is unfair, as we can hone the skills of our South African citizens instead of givingthe jobs to people outside South Africa andincreasing the unemployment rate of ourcitizens,” comments Anderson.
“This is a major challenge facing the metalworking industry, along with the fact that there is much talk about training programmes, yetlittle is done to rectify this.
“I believe that meetings about training are arranged to placate the public and falselygive people the impression that the trainingauthorities are working and doing their best toaid unskilled workers,” says Anderson.
In 1997, Anderson received the Business inEducation award from former president Nelson Mandela for his efforts.
He investigated techniques and trainedwelders at his expense because he believesthat even though skills development programmes are visionless, he will do his best to addressthe skills shortage in his field.
Malinga highlighted some of Merseta’sinitiatives since its inception, which include registering more than 90 learnerships with the Department of Labour, training more than7 000 apprentices and 10 000 learners (excluding training funded by the mandatory grant),developing curricula for 45 qualifications, ata cost of R16,8-million, having paid overR1-billion in training grants and accreditedmore than 3 000 training providers.