Strengthening the Steel Industry Through Skills Development and Training
Quality education and training are constituent components of the South
African steel industry. As the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have
wreaked havoc on the metals sector, in the face of a steadily increasing
unemployment rate across the board, the industry must focus on stimulating
growth and employment opportunities.
This strategy begins with pioneering work-based learning programmes to
ensure that youths are integrated in the steel manufacturing ecosystem.
According to Neil Reddy, Business Strategy & Projects Manager at Veer Steel
Mills, while skills development and training has been disrupted in 2020 due
to the coronavirus, it is more important than ever that the metals sector
restratgise and plan for 2021 and up the ante on tangible opportunities for
education and employment. “It is crucial for business leaders and employers
to act on the preeminent changes happening in the industry if manufacturing
is to not only survive the negative strides detailed by this global
pandemic, but improve in production capacity, and profitability in the
sector through endorsing portable skills and the employment of youth.”
Acting on this key ethos, Veer Steel Mills has partnered with institutions
such as the University of Johannesburg and the Katlehong Engineering School
of Specialisation with a focus on manufacturing. To date, Veer Steel Mills
have had an intake of 200 trainees annually in various industries and in an
array of vacancies such as apprenticeships, learnerships, work readiness
programmes and internships. From the learnership vacancies, they have
absorbed 60 students on a permanent basis. “Our strategy at Veer Steel
Mills is simple: we train to employ. Many organisations enjoy the benefits
of induction, training and releasing and starting the process all over
again, without a clear intention to absorb any trainees,” says Reddy.
The success of incorporating these training initiatives into your
organisation lies in partnering with a relevant SETA, such as MerSETA
(Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services). This SETA’s core mandate
is to make available skills development programmes to increase the amount
of engineering and manufacturing professionals in South Africa.
“SETAs are here to bolster job opportunities and focus on unemployment and
the most effective way to combat unemployment is to get skilled workers and
offer skills training, in turn, giving your company credibility and
opportunity to see the success of a business growth strategy. There is a
demand to bridge the gap between education and training in the workplace,
and this can be achieved through a comprehensive portable skills programme.
These administrations aid in Vocational skills training organisations will
expand your skills and upgrade your career prospects. Through these
programmes, your focus should be to absorb as many learners as possible
into your organisation,” Reddy states.
The key consideration is the longevity and success of the steel
manufacturing industry as a whole; fundamental to this is best converting
youths entering the sector into future leaders and active contributors to
innovation. With proper education and training, the industry will benefit
from a culture of qualified staff in an assortment of disciplines in order
to elevate excellent service delivery in the sector as a whole.