AfriSam puts skills development front and centre

AfriSam believes that strong technical skills are at the core of the company's operational excellence.
AfriSam believes that strong technical skills are at the core of the company's operational excellence.

As the shortage of technical skills continues to grip the construction materials sector and industry at large, investing in training and development has never been more critical. To meet this demand for people development, AfriSam continues to create a culture of learning by putting skills first.

Glenn Johnson, GM Construction Materials at AfriSam, believes it is fundamental for the construction materials industry to develop people. The industry, he says, needs strong technical skills at the core of its operational excellence.

With that in mind, AfriSam has over the years invested significantly in its in-house training initiatives, namely the Engineer-In-Training, Artisan Learnerships, Trainee Works Manager programmes and general operational training. This has recently been expanded with the introduction of the Trainee Operational Managers programme for the readymix business unit.

Johnson explains that the Engineer-In-Training is a structured training programme for young graduates who have come through AfriSam’s bursary pipeline. “Selected individuals – those who demonstrate the best aptitude for the aggregates and readymix businesses – are integrated into the programme with the aim of developing a pipeline of electrical, civil, mechanical and mining engineers,” he says.

AfriSam has a two-pronged approach to developing its Engineer-In-Training graduates further. They are either given a chance to move into line management or to stay in their chosen technical discipline, be it mechanical or electrical engineering, or a multifunction of the two disciplines.

The Trainee Works Manager programme exposes candidates to all the critical aspects of works management on aggregate operations, including legal training, blasting certificates, financial management and, more importantly, people management amongst others.

The Trainee Operations Manager programme follows the same pattern, but with a specific focus on readymix concrete production, including technical specifications, product application and customer interface. Candidates are also exposed to the financial and operational aspects of the readymix business.

The Artisan Learnership Programme targets candidates who have completed their National Qualification Framework (NQF) courses, be it internal employees (18.1 learners) or external candidates (18.2 learners).

“AfriSam has recorded massive success with these programmes,” Johnson says. “To provide context, since 2012, a total of 83 artisans – both 18.1 and 18.2 learners – came through the system.”

Despite the recent challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and the continued downturn in the construction sector, Johnson says the company continues to show the resolve to develop people. “I also urge other industry players, who have generally lagged behind, to play their part in developing skills the industry needs, now and well into the future,” he concludes.



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