In a first for Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA), production employees with no formal qualifications have successfully undergone training on one of the most sought-after fields in the manufacturing sector. The first 12 Millwright apprentices recently graduated from the Millwright Apprenticeship programme, which was introduced in 2010 through VWSA’s Technical Learning Academy (TLA).
A Millwright Apprenticeship is a highly sought-after skills training programme which focuses on installing and maintaining electrically automated industrial machinery.
A Millwright’s work involves dismantling, fault-finding, repairing and in some cases manufacturing small replacement parts. They are also required to be able to read blue prints and schematic drawing to perform these tasks.
The training programme of the first 12 Millwright apprentices spanned over a period of three and a half years.
“During this time the apprentices received institutionalised practical training and on-the-job training,” said TLA trainer Nabeel Rasdien.
“In the electrical aspect, they received practical as well as theory training ranging from simple domestic lighting circuits to designing and commissioning of complex motor control. In the mechanical field, trainees received the same training as a fitter apprentice would. The training started with basic hand skills and included more technical aspects such as dismantling and assembling gearboxes,” added Rasdien.
They also received training in pneumatics, hydraulics, electronics and programme logic controllers. The training ended with a national trade test regulated by MerSETA (Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority).
One of the graduates, Ivor Van Staden, a VWSA employee of almost 10 years, said the apprenticeship had been invaluable.
“I have gained invaluable technical, mechanical and electrical skills that have empowered me to be a better and marketable person,” said Van Staden. “I would like to convey my gratitude to VWSA for this opportunity and for investing in me.”
VWSA Managing Director, David Powels, said the trade testing of the Millwright Apprentices was part of the company’s “continued focus on improving the skills of our employees”.
“At VWSA, we have a strong focus on training and developing our people and ensuring that they have access to the very best in learning facilities and opportunities. To date, we have invested over R450 million in training and skills development of our employees,” said Powels.
Most of the technical training at VWSA is conducted through the TLA with more than 50% of all the Technical Learners coming from VWSA’s production line. In 2013, the TLA trade tested and qualified 68 employees.