The Vuthela iLembe LED Support Programme threw its weight behind the National Business Initiative and uMfolozi TVET College supporting the Installation, Repair and Maintenance (IRM) Hub in Mandeni that has been funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs which sponsors the Vuthela Programme, as well as GIZ, the German development agency, and Sappi.

The IRM hub seeks to expand opportunities for job retention and job growth in various business activities, including manufacturing, plumbing, electrical, general maintenance, domestic appliance repairs, autobody repairs and cell phone repairs.

Graduating at the end of November 2022, were 43 learners, selected from 210 applicants, from the Assistant Handyperson programme who completed the theory and practical courses in electrical, carpentry, plumbing, painting and carpet Installation. Also graduating on the day were candidates from the Artisan Recognition Prior Learning Programme (ARPL), seven qualified as electricians and three qualified as fitters. The ARPL is a process whereby people’s prior learning can be formally recognised in terms of registered qualifications and unit standards, regardless of where and how the learning was attained. All graduates were awarded with a toolkit and table to assist them in starting their own businesses.

Nothando Nyawo always dreamt of becoming a qualified artisan in the electrical field. Now that dream has become a reality through the ARPL Programme.

This week her achievement of passing her Trade Test was acknowledged and she was rewarded with QCTO certification as an Artisan.

She trained at the Umfolozi (TVET) College, Mandeni Campus, funded by the IRM Hub which has added to a competent workforce with the graduation of nine other artisans that went through the ARPL Process.

Namasivayam Perumaul, Centre Manager of uMfolozi TVET College, said the institution aimed to tackle the high level of unemployment by providing skills training.

“We want our graduates to be successful in a career that they are passionate about. I urge learners to work hard when given the opportunity so that they can earn a good salary thus ensuring a better quality of life” he said.

Xhanti Mhlambiso, NBI Programme Manager, Economic Inclusion, said it was important that young people in the community benefitted from the training programme.

Nishay Sewchuran, a graduate, said he has been unemployed for a while and saw the programme as an opportunity to upgrade the skills he already has as well as learn new skills.

“This qualification is a springboard to obtaining a job in the field of electrical engineering. Today means a lot to me because I am the first person in my family to graduate,” he said.

Ayanda Nzuza said she applied to join the programme as she plans to be a businesswoman in the electrical industry.

“I am the first person to graduate in my family so my parents are extremely proud of me. I plan to further my skills and learn new ones from various people in the electrical field,” she said.

Velenkosini Ngobe said he thought he would learn skills in an office but the programme offered him hands-on training.

“This programme has benefited me as I have registered my own business providing painting and electrical installation services in residential homes. However, I require work from people,” he said.

Dumisani Mbongwa, Director of Economic Development Planning and Human Settlements at Mandeni Local Municipality and a member of the Vuthela iLembe LED Support Programme Project Management Team, said it was a day for all the graduates to celebrate.

“You are an innovator in a skills development programme which is a step in your career journey. The certificate is your insurance policy; it is your passport to your artisan training. Take all the experiences from the programme to your next journey and I wish you well wherever you go,” he said.