The manufacturing space is becoming increasingly technical. Not only are the designs more complex but the equipment and processes required to manufacture and manage are more sophisticated.
This is the view of Precision Press managing director Simon Ledgerwood.
“Gone are the days of giving someone a pair of overalls and letting them loose in the plant,” he says. “We operate in the globally competitive automotive component sector and have to compete with the best in the world on price, quality and on-time delivery, and skilled personnel are absolutely vital. But the sad fact is that educational and vocational training institutions aren’t producing graduates with the required skills.”
This is why Precision Press – who already has five candidates enrolled in the national Accelerated Artisan Training Programme – has established an academy to train high-school graduates the skills required in a manufacturing environment. The Precision Press Learner Readiness Programme, which has enrolled two groups, comprises manufacturing concepts, and core and processes-related modules.
This programme is designed to instil organisational and cultural norms, such as team-building and communication, as well as business principles, including continual and focused improvement.
The engineering skills module includes setter training and development; tool, jig and die model making; specialised tooling training; the use of hand tools; measuring equipment; and engineering drawings. The principles of world class manufacturing (WCM) and the “5S programme” – a method to create a safer, cleaner and better-organised workplace – are also covered by Precision Press learning and development manager Raynier Deysel and his team.
It wasn’t plain sailing, however. “School leavers are totally unprepared for the needs of the workplace,” says Deysel. “The candidate selection process took far longer than we expected because, in many instances, even those with Grade 12 maths were unable to complete the most basic of calculations in the entrance test.”
The first intake will complete their programme in July 2013 and the second intake in September. All of them will go straight into the Precision Press plant.
Precision Press are also offering in-service training for interested school leavers and college learners in the field of manufacturing and engineering, including internships for graduates wishing to gain engineering experience.
“We believe that we’re providing a valuable service to the manufacturing sector in greater Cape Town, and not only in the automotive sector,” says Ledgerwood. “Much of the material we present is generic to manufacturing and, if the group warrants, we can customise and bring in specialised industry-specific modules if required.”
It’s initiatives like this that will ensure South Africa once again becomes globally competitive. “There’s no quick fix in this game,” says Ledgerwood. “It’s one trained person at a time.”