Plastics|SA, together with training partners Whisper Boat Building Academy (WBBA) and the Marine Industry Association of South Africa, are inviting deaf and hearing-impaired students to apply for merSETA funded bursaries that will allow them to train in the art of working with composites during the period 13 August – 14 December 2012.
According to Jo Fitzell, Regional Training Manager for Plastics|SA in the Western Cape, this will be the third intake of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. “There is a tremendous shortage of skilled labour in the Western Cape Boat Building Industry and the deaf students who graduate from this course offer a welcome relief and a sought after skill that allows them to work in a variety of fields in the plastics industry, ranging from working as laminators for boat builders, to swimming pool constructors, canopy constructors and other composite fields”, Fitzell says.
40% of young South Africans unemployed
“Research has shown that 40% of young South Africans between the ages of 16 and 25 are unemployed and do not go to school. Disabled youngsters have an even bigger problem and face even greater obstacles as there are not many opportunities or job facilities that cater for their specific needs”, says Peter Jacops who founded the Whisper Boat Building Academy in 2004 as a non-profit organization to teach deaf students from the townships the art of boat building.
Training takes place with the help of a full-time sign language interpreter and consists of class-room based theoretical training at the Plastics|SA offices in Maitland, combined with practical workplace experience, presented as individual Skills Programmes, offered at the new Whisper Boatbuilding facilities in Epping Industrial.
skills in high demand
“Since the first training course for deaf students was launched as a pilot project a year ago, more than 20 students have graduated with a certificate of competence in lamination”, Fitzell says. “These students are now able to provide for themselves and their families an honest income and are equipped with qualifications, skills and a trade that are in high demand and crucial to the economy,” he says.
The Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Education and Training Authority (merSETA) has also given its vote of confidence to this initiative, by committing itself to fund the full tuition of students who will be recruited and selected by Plastics|SA. In addition, students are also assisted with job placements once they have graduated from the course.
The opportunity is open to any student (male or female) who is 18 years or older, deaf or hearing impaired, but able to speak sign language. Successful candidates must have a valid South African Identity document, be willing to learn, enjoy working with their hands and be willing to commit themselves fulltime for studying over the next six months.
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