First qualified apprentice for FoodBev Seta

The emphasis on apprenticeships in the South African food and beverage manufacturing sector is bearing fruit, with the sector’s first qualified millwrighting apprentice having recently entered the job market.
/~Bongani Sithole of Katlehong in Gauteng province has been declared competent in all aspects of the apprenticeship, which he conducted through QK Meats in City Deep, Johannesburg.
The programme, funded by the Food and Beverages Manufacturing Seta (FoodBev Seta), is part of an initiative to spur involvement in apprenticeships to address scarce skills in the engineering disciplines of the food sector. Initially, FoodBev offered R30,000 for each unemployed learner enrolled for a two-year apprenticeship, but this was doubled in 2007/8 to boost participation further.
Particularly scarce in the food environment are millwrights, fitters, fitters and turners, and electricians. The sector will need an estimated 2,400 apprentices in the coming years to meet the demand for skills.
For Sithole, who already had diplomas in extraction metallurgy and computer programming, the programme was a great opportunity to expand his employment possibilities across diverse industries.
In terms of the apprenticeship, he and his 11 fellow learners at QK Meats were required to find and diagnose faults, and repair machinery or parts thereof. "We were never spoon-fed and often found ourselves working on unfamiliar machinery," he says. "This allowed us to work things out for ourselves, which helps to reinforce the learning process."
Sithole’s certificate was issued by the manufacturing and engineering Seta, Merseta, under whose scope the engineering fields fall. The arrangement is facilitated through a memorandum of understanding between FoodBev Seta and Merseta. 
Companies wishing to take advantage of the FoodBev apprenticeship grant should ensure they are well prepared, says the Seta’s Andrea Basson. "Success in apprenticeship implementation depends on commitment from top management and on having the necessary resources to ensure that processes are followed, documentation is maintained, and the apprentice is well managed and given sufficient mentoring and coaching."
FoodBev Seta: Tel +27-11-253-7300;