The first-ever group of trainees brought to nonprofit technical organisation the Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW) for training by the SAIW Foundation is doing well, says SAIW executive director Sean Blake. “Each learner has shown commendable enthusiasm and dedication and their progress has been excellent. This augurs well for the future of the foundation,” he adds.
The SAIW Foundation is a company that SAIW started as a public benefit organisation to provide training for disadvantaged individuals in a range of areas, including welding and inspection, and the training of trainers for welding and related technologies.
“There are so many people who could benefit from the wonderful career opportunities that welding offers but who simply cannot afford the training. The SAIW Foundation will provide as many of these people as possible with this opportunity,” says Blake.
The initial seed funding for the SAIW Foundation came from the SAIW but the idea is for the industry at large to participate. The SAIW Foundation aims to become a conduit for the welding industry’s charitable efforts so that, through economies of scale, it can give as many youngsters as possible a chance in life, while, at the same time, doing as much as it can to alleviate the skills shortage in the industry.
“We know that we will get support for this. The entire industry is cognisant of the severe shortage of welding skills in the country and that we all have to do whatever we can to promote involvement in the industry. In addition, sponsors, apart from supporting this great cause, will benefit from the usual tax breaks afforded contributors in these circumstances,” he says.
Blake says there is no better industry than the welding industry for a career for young people. “The wide scope of specialities – from practical welding to welding inspection to nondestructive testing (NDT) and on to welding engineering – provides ample choice for those entering the industry to find something that suits their personal aptitude and preference. But, most importantly, the dearth of skills in South Africa means that anyone successfully graduating from the SAIW is assured of meaningful employment.”
The first group of four, who all come from the Barberton area, are enrolled for the IIW International Welder course, which is presented in three modules: starting at fillet welder, moving on to plate welder and ending with pipe welder. This training programme focuses intensely on practical welder training, where the trainee learns welding techniques starting with welding a bead on plate and moving onto welding T-joints, corner joints as well as butt joints in a variety of positions.
Blake reiterated that he is delighted with the way that the first four learners have exceeded expectations. “Without the SAIW Foundation, these four young people may never have had the opportunity to fulfil their immense potential. We are looking for companies to participate in this programme so that we can train many more individuals,” he concludes.