Sephaku Cement recently celebrated its first grouping of new artisans, trained through an Artisan Development Programme that is facilitated and fully sponsored by the company.
“Any of those from our first group of qualified artisans, born and bred in the communities surrounding our plants will be an asset to their employer,” says Pieter Fourie, Sephaku Cement Chief Executive Officer. The learners passed rigorous trade tests to conclude the two year course, which includes theoretical, and workplace experience, making them either specialist fitter and turners or electricians.
“We have walked closely with the learners these past years, providing them with funding, mentorship and guidance,” explains Fourie. Despite not having existing cement production operations, the company found an appropriate solution through which to invest in skills development within Lichtenburg and Delmas-based communities. Lafarge agreed to host the learners for theoretical training and during the period the learners spent 14 months working at Exxaro’s Delmas facility, where they completed their experiential training.
One of the spinoffs for the artisan learner group was the teamwork that it built up over the qualification period. Now a qualified fitter and turner, Reginald Thafe (25) from Mahikeng in the North West Province had applied for three consecutive years prior to finding the Sephaku Cement programme. “We had to work as a team, supporting each other, especially in the on site training that challenged us with real life work experience,” says he.
To be an electrician was a dream for Solomon Mosiane (33) from Matile Village. “Sephaku Cement has helped me. If it was not for them I don’t know where I would have been,” he says. Ernest Pule from the Bodibe Village was previously a bricklayer who had done his N1 and N2 in Civil Engineering. Now a qualified fitter and turner he notes, “I am something because of Sephaku. They have given us support all the time. It was not easy for us and they have made life easier for me.”
“These guys have more than just ticked the boxes required in their Trade Tests. They have mastered a complex set of scarce skills that we need in our developmental economy. To us, they have proved beyond a doubt that training partnerships with people from the communities in which we operate can be very successful,” concludes Fourie.