The quality and standards of welding are critical to the quality and standards of the steel construction industry, owing to the role welding plays in joining the steel sections together in the creation of a steel structure, says the Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW).Thus
, SAIW executive director Sean Blake says that the institute believes that the youth must be involved in the partnership between the welding and steel construction industries.
“Welder education, training and the custodianship of the legal standards in the local welding industry are fundamental to what the SAIW does. To this end, the SAIW created the SAIW Foundation, which is a public benefit organisation providing training to disadvantaged individuals in a wide range of areas, including welding and inspection, the training of trainers for welding and related technologies.”
Blake points out that the SAIW Foundation has its roots in the institute but that the idea is for the industry at large to participate.
“We want the SAIW Foundation to become a conduit for the welding industry’s charitable efforts, so that, through economies of scale, we can give as many youngsters as possible a chance in life,” he notes.
An example of the successes of the SAIW Foundation is Nonhlanhla Angel Mthebula’s internship with leading dome structure manufacturer In2Structures, in Wynberg, Johannesburg. Mthebula was part of the first group of trainees that was brought to the SAIW for training through funding from the SAIW Foundation.
Her internship materialised after In2Structures made a donation to the SAIW Foundation for her training on the SAIW’s International Welder training programme. As a result of this donation, her training is being extended to include gas metal arc welding in welder training and aluminium welding and part of the deal is that she will do the internship at In2Structures.
“I have been working hard at the SAIW to progress in my International Welder course and I will now have the chance to implement what I have learnt in the ‘real world’,” she says.
Blake says that this agreement between In2Structures and the SAIW represents a win-win situation. “As In2Structures’ core business is welding, they wanted to give something back to the welding community while improving their broad-based black economic-empowerment score on skills development by investing in the training of a black female welder.”
In2Structures is an ideal place for a young trainee to get going in the competitive welding industry. Being part of the Gearhouse group – one of Africa’s leading fabricators – In2Structures’ management is cognisant of the need to give young disadvantaged learners a break in an industry which offers so much.
The SAIW Foundation requires funds to train more previously disadvantaged people in the welding field and Blake points out that this is an easy way for both parties to meet their individual objectives, and SAIW hopes that other companies will follow In2Structures’ example.
“We are delighted to have Mthebula on board,” says In2Structures director Linda Wijnberger. She adds that In2Structures fabricates clear-span, load-bearing domes in which the welded joints are the critical foundations of the structure’s stability.
Wijnberger believes that this will be an important step in Mthebula’s welding career and a clear example for other young women and men to follow.