Stefanutti Stocks’ training facility in Chloorkop was officially opened in September 2014 and includes two mobile operator-training simulators and in-house apprentice/artisan training and trade test preparation facility. This in-house training for artisans, was in part motivated by the desire to ensure continuity in terms of level of service and quality of workmanship required by the respective construction Disciplines within the Group, that employs a rich pool of skilled and qualified mechanics instrumental in mentoring and training the next generation of artisans.
In early 2022 three new apprentices were employed on limited duration contracts. They have started Phase 1 training (under the supervision of senior training officer Phineas Rafoma) towards qualifying as Earthmoving Equipment Mechanics.
Currently a total of 17 apprentices are employed and are at various stages of their apprenticeship. “The apprenticeship is four years long, and each year begins with an eight-week long theoretical block, prior to the apprentice embarking on practical workplace exposure – either at the Group’s workshop in Chloorkop, or on one of the Disciplines projects – where they will become the ‘right-hand man’ to the site mechanic,” explains Rafoma. “Once they complete their fourth year, they work for Stefanutti Stocks for a further nine months before attending an external training centre for pre-trade testing, and subsequently will write their trade test at MERSETA. Our goal, once they have qualified in their trade, is to absorb them within the Group,” concludes Rafoma.
24-year-old Portia Makuya from Venda started her apprenticeship in 2022 and is working towards qualifying as a diesel mechanic. She successfully applied in late 2021 after completing her N3-N6 mechanical engineering studies at Ekurhuleni West TVET College, after which she was unable to complete two apprenticeships. Portia is one of many young South Africans that has embarked on artisan training, who after completing their theoretical blocks were unable to be placed for work experience by the respective training institutes.
“It was a stressful time waiting at home for my practical placements, and when it happened to me twice, I thought my career was over,” says Portia. “It wasn’t only me – there were many of us, but our country just doesn’t have jobs, so we had to be patient.”
Portia had previously applied to Stefanutti Stocks in 2018, and when she was invited for an interview with the Group in 2021, she was nervous that it wouldn’t work out…yet again. “I was scared, but then very happy when they called me and told me I should come and start on 6 January,” she says. “This diesel mechanic apprenticeship means a lot to me and since starting it I’m learning new things every day.”
Rafoma says that she has the right attitude towards learning and is an asset to the Stefanutti Stocks apprenticeship programme. “Portia works hard, is happy to take instructions, and doesn’t just sit around in the classroom – you will always find her keeping busy in the workshop, putting what she has learned into practice.”
During the eight-week theory block the new intake of apprentices has also visited sites, to expose them to the different types of plant and equipment the Group owns and maintains. “They give you an opportunity to learn in everything – mining trucks, geotechnical and piling rigs, bakkies – it’s very broad and is my first practical experience with vehicles,” says Portia, “but I’m already dreaming that in five years’ time I will be a qualified mechanic, working on a site and leading a team.”