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Its good news for the motoring public as a group of 26 learners recently completed their spray painting and auto body repairs qualifications.
According to the Seta for manufacturing, engineering and related services (Merseta), South Africa is experiencing a shortage of skills in these disciplines.
The Seta hosted a glittering ceremony in Cape Town to celebrate the graduation of the learners; 15 learners graduated in NQF Level 4 Spray Painting and 11 graduated on NQF Level 3 Body Repairers.
“Learners were overwhelmed by the occasion and battled to contain their excitement, while sponsors of the programme, STI Autobody Repairers and the Merseta were on cloud nine,” says Sibongiseni Ziinjiva Ka-Mnguni of the Merseta.
The learners – who were selected back in 2009 – are from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and were unemployed at the time when they were recruited to the training programme.
“Many of the learners had not completed their matric and yet are now in possession of a trade-related qualification,” says STI project administrator Abigail Warwick.
“It is a great achievement for them; in the group receiving certificates, there are five learners who achieved 100 percent for completing all unit standards and assignments, theory and practical examinations.”
Warwick points out that learners endured many difficulties in their quest to obtain the qualification.
“It was not an easy path for them; some struggled to get to classes and the workshops on time with the erratic public transport system,” she explains.
“Most of them are shack dwellers and some are heading up their households, taking care of their siblings as their parents have passed on.
“Despite the difficulties, they displayed tenacity and pushed through to artisan status.”
Speaking at the event, Merseta chief executive Dr Raymond Patel congratulated the learners, saying that their commitment was heart-warming given the major odds against them.
The winner of the Spray Out competition was also announced during the graduation ceremony.
The objective of the competition was to find the best spray painter in the group of spray-painting learners of the current year and apprentices that qualified at the end of the previous year.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man – and Sandile Sigadi emerged as the winner. Holding back his tears, Sigadi said he was thrilled when his name was called out.
“I knew what I wanted from the onset, and I put in a lot of hard work on my own, while others were working in groups,” he said.
“I took courage from being in the top eight, and I took the competition very seriously. I’d often go to the spraypaint shop on my own and spend extra hours to sharpen my skills, I’m glad it paid off.”
As part of his prize, Sigadi will visit the BASF paint factory in Germany where he can hone his spray painting skills further and get some international exposure.
“When I came here, I didn’t know anything about spray painting. I had to learn the spray painting language. I had to learn how to mix different colours using a computer programme, the technique of using the gun and also learn how to polish a car and how to treat a motor car body,” he said.
“I want to go to Germany, learn as much as I can, and I also want to come back and share the knowledge with everyone back in the country.”
l For more information, visit www.stigroup.co.za or www.merseta.org.za.