Gauteng is set to boast its own foundry training centre by September 2013, with the first intake of students anticipated next year. The project is being funded by the Gauteng Department of Economic Development (GDED) in partnership with National Foundry Technology Network (NFTN). The Gauteng Foundry Training Centre, as it will be known, will be located at the Ekurhuleni East College (EEC).
The Gauteng Foundry Training Centre will create a hub for foundry-related skills training and technology transfer in the greater Gauteng region, offering facilities and infrastructure for both theoretical and appropriate practical training.
The scope of the training centre has been guided by the requirements of the local foundry industry. It will encompass the following four key areas:
- Artisan programme – for Melter, Moulder, Patternmaker qualifications, focused on new entrants and school leavers;
- Skills Training – based primarily on the SAIF training modules, and focused on up skilling existing foundry employees;
- Non-technical training – selected specialised training offerings which could include Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) to improve literacy among foundry staff, basic business skills, and basic supervisory training courses.
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) – assessing the skills and experience of existing foundry employees with a view to identifying gaps and addressing these through targeted training interventions
Although it is anticipated that Artisan training will be the initial focus of the training centre, the idea is to consolidate the other three areas at the centre as well.
Given the structure of the industry in Gauteng, the training centre will focus on sand casting using both chemically bonded and green sand as well as permanent mould gravity die casting. Casting materials will initially be limited to grey cast iron and aluminium, with the possible inclusion of nodular graphite or SG cast iron.
Adrie El-Mohamadi, Project Leader of the NFTN, says that the training centre’s equipment will be largely manual but of sufficient scale and technology to allow for training that is meaningful in an industrial context. “In other words, the aim is for a small-scale industrial foundry infrastructure rather than laboratory scale facilities,” she says.
El-Mohamadi says that the training centre will also function as the regional hub for other foundry-related training, including short courses, management training courses offered through the SAIF utilising various training providers. “The foundry training infrastructure should be used in collaboration with industry and universities for the development and prototyping of casting processes and products,” she says. Discussions with specific university partners are expected to yield a career path opportunity for ambitious artisans to allow them entry into Universities of Technology.
The NFTN is responsible for the overall implementation and establishment of the training centre and will coordinate foundry-specific training in collaboration with South African Institute of Foundrymen (SAIF) in terms of the agreement between GDED, NFTN, EEC and SAIF. The EEC will provide the required infrastructure and buildings for the establishment of the GFTC and fundamental training for the specific curricula required for the foundry industry. The SAIF will acquire the publically funded equipment needed for the GFTC and will work closely with NFTN and MerSETA to set the training programme.
SAIF’s current training module offerings to existing foundry workers will be supplemented by the GFTC to increase the scope and impact of foundry training in Gauteng by making qualified tradesmen available to the industry. The NFTN and SAIF is in the process of registering the eight modules offered by the SAIF and WCIF (Western Cape Institute of Foundrymen) as MerSETA accredited skills programmes, which will allow companies to claim even further funding for workers undergoing the training.