With youth month approaching now is a prevalent time to address the issues that the South African youth face and how corporate South Africa can assist in addressing these. While there are many areas and initiatives that are addressed we can certainly say that the traditionally called ‘trade’ professions have been neglected. In particular, the plumbing professions has seen a drastic decline in this very necessary skills set which many households and businesses require on a daily business.
Sanitation has impacts that go far beyond hygiene, research has been conducted which shows that a lack in sanitation can affect the economy of a country and its Gross Domestic Product. Added to the mix in South Africa is that there is a real crisis in higher education at tertiary institutions who simply cannot accommodate the number of students that finish their matric schooling and wish to study further. Then there is also the worry that once graduates successfully complete their tertiary education will they find employment in their desired area of study. Statistics reveal that the unemployment rate amongst graduates is 7% and while this figure may seem low external factors such as student debt to pay for the very studies that they have completed hangs over the youth of today.
“While tertiary institutions certainly have their place in South Africa and always will, we strongly urge the youth to start considering trade professions such as plumbing, which has seen a steady decline in the past few years. We do however have some of the best products that have been developed locally and various learnerships which give students in this respective industry working experience which is crucial to their success in the industry. We also equip learners with the knowledge to start their own businesses – another very important factor when considering the economic landscape of South Africa and the fact that the major employer group are small businesses,” says Grohe Dawn/Cobra Water Technology spokesperson.
One example where government has worked with private industry and promoted the plumbing trade is in the Govan Mbeki Municipal area in Secunda. The initiative aims to not only conserve water but also impact the lives of young people. Sixty young people were given the skills to launch their career and make a tangible difference to the environment. One example of how important skills development is, is the story of Lisbeth Mahlangu a 32 year old woman from Embalenhle, Mpumalanga.
Since completing her schooling Lisbeth has studied, continues to work and network to make sure she is an active member of society who is able to provide for herself and her family. In 2016 she had managed to secure employment as a shop assistant while saving enough money to pay for another module in her safety officer training. While she was employed it wasn’t enough to sustain her confidence in her chosen career – until an advertisement in a local newspaper spurred her to action. The advertisement was a learnership the ‘War on Leaks Project Plumbing Learnership,’ where recipients receive a national qualification framework (NQF) level four qualification. The pilot project was so successful that it won a Responsible Care Award from the Allied and Chemical Industries Association which encouraged Cobra and its partners to expand the programme and train an additional 60 plumbers and provide them with formal qualifications.
“Cobra is passionate about development and this extends beyond our product range to our people and our industry. We wish to expand on our current projects and extend this to plumbers already in the trade with a few new exciting initiatives in the upcoming months,” concludes Andrew.