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Vereeniging-based DCD Group is playing its part in the training and up-skilling of workers to help ease the burden of unemployment through its new training facility that was officially established in Johannesburg in late 2012.

"As a division of local manufacturing and engineering, DCD Group, DCD Heavy Engineering has opened its doors to train artisans, which are scarce in the market, and to counter unemployment issues which are currently rife in the country," notes DCD Heavy Engineering training facility human resources manager, Sue Steyn.

"We previously had a training centre which could accommodate 20 to 25 apprentices.

"After opening our new training facility in 2012, we have managed to double our student intake and currently we have 67 apprentices being trained in disciplines that include; fitting and turning, electricians, boilermakers and welders. We recently included riggers to the programme too," she explains.

The apprenticeship is a minimum of 80 weeks and a maximum of four years. It involves the students working at the DCD workshop while completing their training programme.

Each student has a programme which is tailor-made for their specific needs, and that works towards them attaining their trade papers in whichever trade they are specialising.
Steyn explains that the students are chosen through an application process which starts with the interested applicants submitting their CVs. "There is a minimum requirement and that is the N2, maths, science, technical drawing and trade theory, depending on what the student wishes to pursue."

Student Adriaan Te Brugge joined the DCD apprenticeship programme in February 2012 as a fitter and turner apprentice and reveals that he finds the programme highly informative and personalised to his needs. "I am learning a tremendous amount, and am extremely grateful to DCD and the programme, as it has given me an opportunity that I otherwise would not have had."

Te Brugge has been the apprentice of the year for the last two years running, and in 2013 he was named apprentice of the year, not only for his specific trade, but overall. The programme is based on harnessing an individual's talents, and apprentices are steered in the direction of work that they are best suited for.

The apprentices are assessed by the workshop foreman on a monthly basis and any skills that the foreman feels they are lacking in, they are retrained on.

Steyn adds that the Department of Labour has also taken an interest in driving an initiative to see if it can curb the unemployment through the training that DCD offers at its facility.

"We collaborated with the Department of Labour by taking on 19 UIF participants. The participants enter into an agreement with DCD, Department of Labour and Merseta, in which they commit to the training programme.

"We do not want to only focus on training but also to up-skill people who have been removed from the workforce and get them back into the working environment."

The students are also afforded the opportunity to work at DCD once they have graduated from the training programme. "Currently the training facility employs two training instructors, a fabrication mentor, a machining mentor and a training co-ordinator. The 1 193m2 facility is run at the DCD Group premises based in Vereeniging.

The training facility is DCD's contribution to rectify the challenge of skills shortages in the country and the increasing challenge of unemployment problems, " Steyn concludes.

This article was originally published in the Vereeniging Ster for the week of 8 April - 14 April 2014

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