Manufacturer opens welding school for unemployed youth

23rd June 2023

A class of unemployed youth from local communities in the greater Nigel area, in Ekurhuleni, were able to start free accredited and certified professional welding training at the beginning of April at the newly opened Alstom Ubunye Welding School, owned by rolling stock manufacturer Alstom.

The welding school – which is accredited by industry body the Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW) – was officially opened by Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi on March 31.

Based at Alstom Ubunye in Nigel, the school will provide a range of theory and practical modules, which are developed under the guidance of industry experts and presented by qualified educators.

In line with the digital and technology evolution, a “state-of-the-art” virtual reality training programme will be part of the training modules. Apart from welding practice, initiating a learner with virtual reality welding first allows the learner to comprehend welding terms and gain a familiarity with the look and feel of welding, before entering the physical welding laboratory.

Speaking at the school’s inauguration, Lesufi said: “I support skills development and today I’m really pleased to officially open the Alstom Ubunye welding school which will equip youth with key skills. There’s a huge potential to link up with neighbouring schools of specialisation and develop future rail industry employees from high school level. To re-industrialise Gauteng, we need industrial skills and welding is key in that skills revolution.”

The welding course duration is three years on a learner contract. Upon completion, learners receive a Quality Council for Trades and Occupations-registered qualification. The welder occupational certificate is a National Qualification Framework (NQF) Level 4 certificate.

“Welding is a core skill in our production process of core mechanical components for trains and locomotives. Considering our growing operations and the need for rail-specific skills, we decided to invest in a welding school,” enthused Alstom Ubunye CEO Logan Naicker.

“This school will create a talent database of trained welders who will benefit from employment opportunities that arise in our operations, as well as other companies running similar operations that require professional welding skills and expertise.”

Alstom Ubunye manufactures electrical and mechanical components, which include end-under frames, bogies, and bogie frames. The electrical components include electrical boxes such as the traction converter, static converter, as well as the high voltage boxes.

The company also makes products for the trains and provides service and maintenance solutions for both locomotives and trains.