Engineering and construction services company Murray & Roberts committed R27-million to build and equip a 6 000 m2 artisan-training centre in Lephalale, close to the company’s operations at the Medupi power station; the centre has been operating since 2008.
Murray & Roberts runs the centre in partnership with the further education and training (FET) college in Lephalale, South African information and communication technology company Gijima AST, which provides training, and the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (Merseta).
Training at the centre is based on the Accelerated Artisan Training Programme (AATP) module, which was introduced by Merseta to address South Africa’s skills shortage.
The course comprises 26 weeks of institutional training at the Tlhahlong Centre, followed by workplace experience undertaken at Medupi.
The training centre provides skills for over 700 people from the local community who will become artisans skilled in rigging, welding and a number of other skills critical to the construction of Medupi.
Murray & Roberts notes the on-site work is structured according to activities that are signed off by a qualified artisan, who also acts as coach. The minimum period of the workplace exposure is 54 weeks. The entire training period ends with a trade test that needs to be completed and passed. Once it has been completed, workers have access to a nationally recognised certificate of competence.
“We believe that empowering communities through training and skills development goes a long way towards alleviating some of the challenges that communities face in terms of poverty, inequality and unemployment. It not only uplifts communities, but also works towards ensuring that there is a pool of skilled artisans in the area, which is good for building skills capacity in South Africa,” says Murray & Roberts sustainability director Andrew Skudder.
Owing to the infinite life span of the project, local unskilled and semiskilled workers at Medupi also have access to training programmes that prepare them for life beyond the project.
This training includes financial literacy and competence, a ‘Drive Your Life’ course aimed at helping workers understand their options once the project that they are working on is completed and further education and training in small, medium-sized and microenterprise skills development.
The programme, called the Medupi Leadership Initiative, also provides office space for budding entrepreneurs and job creation initiatives, which provide community members with job opportunities in environmental restoration of the community, rhino-poaching prevention, corporate social investment in construction and the refurbishment of community facilities and local municipal projects in Lephalale.