Brunice Taylor (24), an engineering metallurgist trainee at Veer Steel Mills.
Brunice Taylor (24), an engineering metallurgist trainee at Veer Steel Mills.

Being a young female metallurgist

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Aug 3, 2021

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Metallurgical engineer is an engineer trained in the extraction, refining, alloying and fabrication of metals.

The See Yourself in Steel campaign aims to encourage women to see the industry as a vital part of the economy and one offering viable career options. Despite strides made by such campaigns, the South African steel industry remains male-dominated. To challenge this narrative, Veer Steel Mills – a division of the Alfeco Group – is focused on bringing women into the industry through work readiness programmes such as learnerships, apprenticeships and internships.

One of Veer Steel Mills’ strategies is centralised on providing portable skills to previously disadvantaged groups such as women and the youth, who could not easily access work opportunities in the steel industry.

Brunice Taylor broke into the industry in 2019 when she was inducted as an apprentice in the Apprenticeship Training Programme for Metallurgical Engineering that turned out to be a key element in completing her National Diploma in Engineering Metallurgy at the University of Johannesburg. Afterwards, the company gave her a permanent position.

According to Taylor, the duty is on organisations such as Veer Steel Mills to be game changers in the domestic steel industry to upskill and give opportunities to women in these capital-intensive industries.

“I have always wanted to pursue an unconventional career. When I learnt about metallurgy from a family member, I knew I had found an uncommon field filled with intricate research methodologies within the steel industry. Through my research, I found that this career would present different problems and solutions to quality control in manufacturing, and it would be the perfect platform to learn the trade secrets from different types of engineers,” says Taylor.

Although qualified and possessing years of experience in her field, Taylor still faces challenges from men who question being led by a woman. Despite that, she remains steadfast in changing the narrative that women cannot lead in male-dominated industries.

Instead intimidating Taylor, these challenges provide fuel for her perform at her best.

She highlighted her appreciation for Struggle stalwarts who fought for women’s rights in South Africa.

The Minister of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, recently announced a policy to re-energise and expand production in the local steel and metal fabrication sector. Taylor believes that this can be achieved by creating much-needed youth employment and bringing in women into the industry.

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