A mechanic from Umlazi Township in Durban has been successful in getting his workshop accredited to offer in-service training to artisan students from technical vocational education and training (TVET) colleges to complete their studies.
Sanele Ndlovu (40), a qualified electrical engineer, was motivated to open his own workshop after experiencing difficulties in securing in-service training to complete his diploma at the Mangosuthu University of Technology. His workshop is called Saints Mechanic and Panelbeaters.
After three years of fruitlessly searching for in-service training, he was forced to relocate to Johannesburg where he secured training and was eventually employed as an electrical engineer at various companies.
However, Ndlovu says the pain he endured while struggling to find in-service training haunted him throughout his career and he was determined to make a difference.
With a background in mechanics – as his father, a taxi owner, operated an informal workshop in Umlazi – Ndlovu later switched to motor mechanics and transformed his father’s workshop into an accredited workplace for artisans.
In 2019, he left his job and used his savings to renovate the workshop and purchase the tools and equipment required to bring his workshop up to professional standards.
Ndlovu’s workshop was recently accredited by The Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA), one of the 21 sector education and training authorities established to promote skills development in South Africa.
The Department of Higher Education declared 2014 to 2024 ‘the decade of the artisan’ to meet the demand for government’s strategic infrastructure projects, which require around 30 000 new artisans each year.
Ndlovu’s workshop will take four students per semester as it has four bays. The students will be paid a stipend funded by merSETA. He laments the fact that while there are many TVET colleges and universities of technology, the platform for practical experience is still lacking, which discourages many young people from becoming artisans. “While I’m an electrical engineer, I have always worked in maintenance. I found it easy to deal with car mechanics. I wanted to come back and make a change in my township so that other students do not suffer the same pain.”
Saints Mechanics and Panelbeaters offers basic vehicle maintenance, routine and major services, fault and breakdown diagnosis with the latest technology, engine overhaul and panel-beating among many services.
Visit Merseta at http://www.merseta.org.za(link is external) for funding and accreditation assistance.
Written by: Owen Mngadi
This article was originally published in the GCIS Vuk’uzenzele.