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Lonmin boost artisan skills

Friday, 20 April 2012

Lonmin has announced the opening of the Lonmin Artisan College at Marikana, in the North West province. Aiming to address South Africa’s shortage of technical skills, as well as ensure the sustainability of Lonmin, the company has embarked on a training programme to bring new tradespeople onto the market. The facility was opened yesterday by Minister of Mineral Resources, Susan Shabangu.

The skills shortage in the country has been well documented and vocational skills, in particular, are in short supply: government estimates the current shortfall to be between 30,000 and 50,000. Lonmin has risen to the challenge this poses by establishing a trade school on one of its mining properties.

Significantly, the Artisan College has been accredited by the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA), a Sector Education Training Authority for the Mining and Minerals Sector. This means that all graduates of the programmes will have formal recognition that they are competent in their respective fields. The College provides the full spectrum of education, training and assessment services, to ensure that trainees are fully proficient. This is essentially a partnership between Lonmin and the MQA, which is anticipated to represent the start of a long and a healthy relationship among the parties.

Initially focusing on the electrical trade, the Lonmin Artisan College will expand to include fitters, boilermakers, diesel mechanicians, instrument mechanicians, riggers and millwrights. The electrical field was chosen as the pilot as this was identified as the area of greatest need, both at Lonmin and externally. In addition, it has been cost effective to establish this discipline and senior instructors in electrical engineering are readily available, so Lonmin will be able to maximize its efficacy.

Lonmin CEO, Ian Farmer, was delighted with the new facility, saying that: "At Lonmin we take an integrated approach to human resources development, creating worth for the community and business. There is a close link between the Lonmin Community Education Programme, our HRD Strategy and the National Skills Development Strategy and believe that the three are a winning combination for the future of skills in South Africa."

Training numbers are based on Lonmin’s requirements, but the company has committed to developing an equivalent number of tradespeople for external jobs, to enhance the country’s skills base too. The primary intake consists of 15 Lonmin staff as well as 15 community members who will be trained. In addition, Lonmin is training 11 community members in mixed trades, bringing the current total to 41 people. By the end of this year, there will be a total of 214 learners in the system.

"The lack of skills is hampering economic progress in the country," says Barnard Mokwena, Executive Vice President, Human Capital & External Affairs, "and we wish to address this constraint. We have identified additional resources which will be developed to further expand our capacity. We need to provide for Lonmin’s sustainability while also contributing to satisfying our country’s needs. The best way for us to demonstrate that we care, is to invest in developing individuals."

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