Zukile Mosheshe Christopher Mvalo, the Deputy Director-General: Skills Development Branch at the Department of Higher Education and Training, opened the upgraded SEIFSA Training Centre in Benoni, Johannesburg, on Friday, July 22.

The renovated centre hopes to go some way to meeting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for the private sector to step up and help with job creation, which cannot happen without skills development. In his State of the Nation Address in February 2022, the president said: “The reality in our country – as in most other countries – is that the private sector creates the most jobs.”

In his speech at the relaunch of the training centre, SIEFSA CEO Lucio Trentini spoke of the importance of addressing South Africa’s unemployment rate. “There is no doubt that South Africa desperately needs to utilise, absorb and develop local people in industry in order to achieve economic progress and in the process tackle the challenges of unemployment, inequality, poverty and now hunger in our country. In pursuit of this goal, SEIFSA realised a long time ago, that emphasis must be given to training in key technical trades for our youth and adults. “

The ribbon-cutting ceremony that Mvalo presided over opened the doors of the new centre, which, over the past year and a half, has been transformed from an old-style training centre focused mostly on apprenticeships to a state-of-the-art Fourth Industrial Revolution-ready training centre.

“The centre has been completely rebranded, with new buildings and new equipment, as the old centre was very outdated. We invited our clients and stakeholders to come and experience the new centre, which is nothing like the old one. It has all new offerings, and is physically completely different building,” says SEIFSA Training Centre director Preggy Chetty.

The upgrade sets the centre apart from other South African training centres as it offers multidisciplinary expertise in engineering, high-end artisan and technical development, human capital, strategy, project and programme management, consulting, accreditation, and entrepreneurship and small business incubation capabilities.

Chetty is adamant that the skills training that the centre provides is meant as a steppingstone to finding work. “We can train people, but, if they cannot get jobs, then we need to do more,” he says.

“The big leap is around going into business incubation, though the core of the business remains apprenticeships,” says Chetty.

The new innovation hub and business incubation facilities will take newly qualified welders and boiler makers, for example, through the process of setting up their own small businesses with the support of the SEIFSA Training Centre, along with access to its facilities and help with securing contracts. “We are always there in the background,” says Chetty.

But this is not the only leap – the new, improved SEIFSA Training Centre also offers 4IR-related skills such as robotics and 3D printing to meet industry demands. These skills will be taught using e-learning, virtual reality and e-assessments.

The SEIFSA Training Centre is run in partnership with Thuthukisa, a specialist advisory, consulting, projects management skills programmes delivery company.

The centre has the capacity to train 250 people per day and offers apprenticeships in 10 trades. The training centre is a Department of Higher Education and NAMB-registered Trade Test centre and has trade-tested more than 400 candidates per year, since 2014.