Damen Shipyards Receives Vocational Qualification Pioneer Apprenticeship Award

From left to right: Lusindiso Meje (Assistant Technical Trainer, Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT)), Victor Muhlberg (TETA Executive), Paulos Mahlangu (Training Director, SEIFSA), Sabelo Buthelezi (Chief Director, DHET), Abdullah Galant (Technical Training Officer, Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT)), Terine Lott Cupido (Chair, COS), Brian Phike (CEO, Northlink College).

DAMEN Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT) has been honored to receive an award from the Northlink College higher education and training institution. The award is a certificate of appreciation acknowledging DSCT’s role in the commitment to train some of the first “vocational qualification” apprentices under what was then a new program launched by DHET (Department of higher education and training) in January 2019.

Northlink commended DSCT for participating in this program from the start, when its future was still uncertain and its success yet to be demonstrated. DSCT was one of the first companies in South Africa to adopt this new learning programme, the COS (Centres of Specialization) programme, at a time when this concept had not yet been proven. Only recently has it become mainstream. Working in partnership with Northlink College, the first Damen apprentices successfully qualified in the COS Fitting & Turning program, the first of its kind in South Africa.

Each participant participates in a three- to four-year program that ensures that, upon completion, they are proficient in their craft. 50% of their time is spent in college and 50% in the workplace on a rotational basis. 36 people are currently in the program, across eight professions. In addition to fitting and turning, trades available include pipework, welding, boilermaking, plumbing, electrical, rigging and mechanical fitting. Over 90% of interns choose to accept full-time employment with DSCT upon completion of their training.

The college teaches the theoretical side of the roles and basic training in the underlying skills,” says Abdullah Galant, Technical Training Manager at DSCT, “while DSCT provides hands-on exposure to the application of those skills on the workplace as well as basic training in safety, firefighting and other essential procedures. New skills like carpentry are likely to be added over time. We now work with four colleges in total and many of the trainers are former DSCT employees.

Damen Shipyards Group – Oceans of Possibilities

Damen Shipyards Group has been in business for over ninety years providing maritime solutions worldwide, through the design, construction, conversion and repair of vessels and vessel components. By integrating systems, we create innovative and high-quality platforms, which offer our customers maximum added value.

DSCT Training Center

In response to the skills gap identified within the South African maritime industry in 2010, DSCT launched a training center for apprentices to be trained on building vessels to Damen standards, for Damen.

Since its launch, the training center has trained 127 skilled artisans through apprenticeships, internships and ARPL (recognition of prior learning for artisans) programs, of which 24 artisans are women. Currently, the Training Center welcomes 36 apprentices and offers trades in Boilermaking, Welding, Mechanical Assembly, Electrical, Assembly and Turning, Plumbing and Rigging.

Internship at DSCT is offered to students of FET colleges who need hands-on experience to receive their qualifications. Many thanks to the various SETA and FET colleges who served as trusted sources for apprentices.

Michael A. Bynum