The Lesedi Skills Academy received its Trade Test Centre certification from the National Artisan Moderation Body, which enables the academy to perform trade testing of mechanical artisans.
Awarded the certificate in January, the academy was established in September 2015 by engineering, procurement, project management and maintenance solutions house Lesedi Nuclear Services and other stakeholders in the electricity industry to proactively address its skills challenges.
The purpose of the academy is to upskill employed and unemployed learners by providing them with the knowledge and skills to progress in the mechanical engineering and related fields, especially in the Western Cape, which, according to the company, is fast becoming Africa’s leading digital hub and leading the green technology sector.
Skills development and practical experience are critical requirements that enable youth to enter the formal job market, says Lesedi Skills Academy MD Nicky van der Poel.
She adds that, while artisan training is often not the first choice of school leavers, the South African economy has a far greater need of artisans than university graduates, and artisans are almost guaranteed formal employment.
Notably, with the easing of lockdown restrictions by the South African government, the academy is preparing for its learners to return, with strict workplan procedures and protocols to ensure the safety of students, mentors and teachers.
Prior to the lockdown, the Lesedi Skills Academy and nonprofit organisation GreenCape partnered to provide short artisanal courses in boilermaking, basic welding and mechanical fitting.
“The programme recruited 160 Atlantis youth who are currently unemployed, of whom 89 have completed the course. This initiative forms part of the Atlantis Special Economic Zone for Green Technologies, where young people in the community can benefit by being skilled for future employment opportunities.”
Van der Poel notes that these initiatives are important to ensure that skills sets are available in the Western Cape to the benefit of local communities.
The academy has highly trained and qualified staff, as all the trainers are registered with the National Artisan Moderation Body, and the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (Merseta).
The academy also includes qualified artisans who can provide training as instructors, registered assessors and moderators.
Additionally, the Lesedi Skills Academy offers formal mechanical training programmes, as well as customised training programmes, which include practical revision in preparation for trade tests.
To date, the academy has trained more than 200 learners, of whom the majority reside in Atlantis, 40 km north of Cape Town.
Ongoing programmes in mechanical fitting, boilermaking and welding have also assisted the Atlantis community in tapping into opportunities provided by the Atlantis Special Economic Zone.
Further, Lesedi also established a mentorship programme, with Lesedi employees mentoring apprentices. The company has been registered on the Merseta database as such.
The Lesedi Skills Academy is Merseta and Quality Council for Trades and Occupations-accredited, and is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.
“In a very short time, the academy has refined its artisan training programmes to produce a skills level fit for the highest quality and safety standards internationally in the nuclear and broader energy sector,” the company says.
As a service provider in the engineering industry, the academy provides focused training programmes that lead to safety-oriented technical staff. This is achieved through Lesedi’s impeccable service record in the energy, industrial and mechanical sectors, with more than 50 years of technical experience.
Moreover, in preparation for every power outage, Lesedi Nuclear Services sends all its semi-skilled personnel, mechanical fitters and technicians to its academy for refresher training.
“With safety as a core value, we do not assume artisan readiness and make a point of ensuring that every fitter is sufficiently geared up for the challenges that await him or her. We have seen significant success in not only fitters meeting plant entry-requirements but also the quality and safety of the work performed,” Van der Poel concludes.