ENGINEERING: Happenings to the Tool Room
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AJAX Manufacturing, one of the oldest aluminium foundries in the Western Cape, is in a good position to provide a commentary on developments in the tool room, from the fifties to the present day.
Charles Rowe, MD of Ajax says, “The modern tool room is very different from that of five decades ago, specifically in the area of computer technology and modern machinery.”
“However one thing that has remained the same, is the critical need for qualified and experienced personnel to design quality tools for the industry they will be used in.”
“Unfortunately many smaller companies with tool rooms have not taken on apprentices, mainly due to the vast amount of administration involved to comply with the Apprenticeship Board regulations. This is a pity because it significantly reduces the number of apprentices that can be placed in an active training environment in this sector of industry.”
“Some of our tool room staff have been with the foundry for more than 20 years, however once they retire there could be a problem with the number of people available with the right qualifications. The recent formation of the Western Cape Tooling Initiative (WCTI), which is the local chapter of the Tooling Association of South Africa (TASA), a section 21 company, will therefore play an important role in addressing the skills shortage. WCTI has already trained 16 students through Northlink College at its premises in Wingfield. Of these five have to date been placed in employment.”
“TASA and WCTI in conjunction merSETA, the sector education and training authority tasked with skills development in various sectors of the economy, has a joint project called the National Tooling Initiative mainly funded by merSETA. This is through the discretionary grant allocated to the participating companies which was implemented in early 2006.”
Client Liaison Officer for merSETA Western Cape, Nasir Williams, says, “Our aim is to support the training of eligible learners to equip them with the required skills and qualifications to meet the growing demand for personnel in the manufacturing and engineering sectors, particularly in the province’s tool rooms.”
“MerSETA has a range of learning interventions that companies can participate in e.g learnerships, apprenticeship and placement of experiential learners within the industry. All these interventions require industry to become involved. The current project that we have is the one based on the learnership program.”
“The contract is a three party agreement and is a one year contract at a time, which is renewed on a yearly basis as the learners progress and at the discretion of the employer. They begin at NQF level 2 and complete at NQF level 4 being equivalent to artisan status.
During the course of their training there are regular formative assessments and a summative assessments at the all levels, in order to issue the learners with the relevant credits.
The minimum secondary education requirement is normally from Grade 10 to 12, however we do accept learners who have completed Grade 9 under certain circumstances.”
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