Welding school sparks new hope for youth

Friday, March 30, 2012

Pretoria - The newly launched Eskom Academy of Learning (EAL) Welding School will see at least 700 young people trained as high class welders, said the parastatal.

The school, which is based in Midrand, was launched on Thursday.

"Over the next seven years, Eskom will train at least 700 young people to be welders - and not just ordinary welders, but high class welders," chief executive officer Brian Dames said.

The school forms part of Eskom's Professional Welding Capability Development Programme, which aims to improve its capacity to train welders to international quality standards. This is in order to meet Eskom's requirements for the construction of new power plants and the maintenance and upgrading of existing plants.

The school, which currently has 150 students in various stages of training, was formed to respond to the skills shortage in the country and it will ensure that the parastatal will be able to replace skills that had to be imported from other countries with home-grown welding professionals.

The training of welders includes on-the-job training at power stations as well as classroom theory.

"It is imperative for state institutions to develop skills in-house that will go a long way to alleviate the country's shortage and to stimulate economic and employment opportunity," said Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba.

"This is an important and strategic technical skills development programme, as the welders will be able to work not only for Eskom, but will also be of use to the broader South African economy."

The school is a partnership between the South African Institute of Welding (SAIW) and Eskom. At the end of their three to five year schooling, trainees will receive a dual South African and international qualification accredited by the International Institute of Welding (IIW) and SAIW.

Eskom currently has a pipeline of 6 386 learners, with the focus on training artisans, engineers and technologists for the future with Eskom investing over R1 billion a year, representing over 6% of the wage bill, in the training and development of its people.

Eskom chairman Zola Tsotsi said they were committed to deliver technical skills development targets for their infrastructure requirements, and that the welding programme would give South Africans career and skills opportunities in a scarce skills category.