The VAMCOSA Career Day is a flagship event in the on-going outreach project “Discover Your Career in Valves”, that D Three – Discover, Develop, Deploy Services Pty (Ltd) - is delivering on behalf of the Valves and Actuators Manufacturers Cluster of South Africa (VAMCOSA). The project aims to identify candidates from underprivileged communities at high school level and provide mentorship through a collaborative relationship with VAMCOSA members, with the view to recruiting the highest performing students into the local manufacturing sector following formal apprenticeship and training.
In addition to providing learner support in the classroom through mentorship and site visits to factories, the Career Day offers learners the opportunity to interact directly with employees from companies in the valve-manufacturing sector. Sakkie Lombard, an Engineer at Mitech, explains that many of the learners initially ask if they will be given bursaries through the programme. Lombard takes the time to explain to learners that, in the technical field, it is more important to be skilled then to go straight from high school into an institution of higher learning. “I never had the opportunity to go and study,” he explains, “I really had to work my way up, and that is why I can relate to these kids,” he adds.
Lombard emphasises the importance of apprenticeship and company provided learnerships in the career development of young artisans. “If you are able to do something with your hands, you can find a job and if you apply yourself you will be able to gain a qualification through learnerships at a company.” The benefit of this approach is clear, as it allows youth from disadvantaged backgrounds to earn a living while developing their skills. Interactions of this nature provide learners with a relatable example of how becoming an artisan can be a means to overcome many of the obstacles that less privileged young South Africans encounter when trying to access tertiary education.
Portia Magongoma, representing Premier Valves, provides learners with a stellar example of transformation in the manufacturing sector. As a young trainee engineer, she states that it is imperative that we empower young women with the knowledge that they are capable of achieving success in traditionally male-dominated technical fields. She explains to the young ladies crowding around her station: “The important thing is knowing what you want. There is a big difference between a job and a career. You need to inform yourself and pursue all possible opportunities.” National Sales Manager for Premier Valves Roelf Frauendorf expresses his unwavering support for the young women entering the valve-manufacturing sector. “We could use more women in our field” he adds.
The ‘Discover your Career in Valves” initiative is clearly making a tangible difference in the learner’s lives. Tumelo Mosebi, a 17-year-old learner who is preparing to write his matric this year, has decided that he would like to become a boiler maker upon leaving school. Mosebi attended a site visit at Dual Products INTL (SA) in Benoni and met with Trust Mpofu who has mentored many of the Fumana learners through the Discover your Career in Valves initiative. Mpofu took the young man under his wing and showed him the importance of being a skilled artisan, not only as a means to make a living, but also to provide the skills needed to drive development in his community. “Trust showed me the pipes and things in the Mall,” Mosebi explains, “and he said: ‘you could be the one making these things one day’.”
D-Three founder and Discover Your Career in Valves project coordinator Lara Slogrove intends for initiatives such as the VAMCOSA Career Day to gain impetus and become a regular occurrence at the school. A second event targeting the grade 9 learners was held on the 15th April to an equally enthusiastic reception. “VAMCOSA and it’s members are really enriching the student’s learning here at Fumana,” says Mechanical Technology teacher Thulisile Moreriane, “the companies involved have helped us with equipping our classrooms as well as encouraging our learners to try their very best,” she states.
VAMCOSA members who set up stands at the career day include Cobra, RGR Technologies, Dual Products, Paltech Advanced Valve Technology, Ituba Valves and Industrial Supplies cc, Ainsworth Engineering, Premier Valves, Mitech and Tega Industries South Africa (who is a member of Sampec), among others.