Supporting life-long learning: Portable skills training at Koffiefontein

Petra Diamonds’ Koffiefontein mine initiated its portable skills programme in 2009 and, since then, the programme has gone from strength to strength. Employees who participate in the programme learn skills different to those used in their everyday work: skills that may be applied to another area of the mining industry, to facets of their lives beyond the workplace, or taken with them if and when they leave the mine, thus increasing their employability.

Programme courses have included bricklaying, plumbing and mechanical and electrical training. Training is provided by Train the Nation, a fully accredited training service provider. It is unit standard based, with credits being obtained that can contribute towards a national qualification. Each programme commences with a three-day business skills training course and ends with graduates of the programme receiving a certificate indicating the skill they have acquired. In addition, Train the Nation and Koffiefontein sponsor community members to be trained along with Company employees, with this opportunity being advertised locally.

Two community members were recently trained along with Koffiefontein employees in electrical appliance and air-conditioning. The local community and employees were informed that they could bring in any broken electrical appliances, such as fridges, kettles and the like, to be repaired free of charge by the trainees. Course participant, Hester Masimola is enthusiastic: “I learned a lot on the course. I would like to go on a more advanced course now.” Hans Riet agrees the course was very worthwhile: “I learned a lot about electricity that I didn’t know before,” he says.

Basic motor mechanic training also took place with employees and the wider community being invited to bring in vehicles that required work to be done on them. Again, two community members were trained along with mine employees. Sechaba Maleme praises the course, saying, “I learned a great deal. I now know all about brake pads and handbrakes and a lot more about motor vehicles. I would like a series of courses to be held.” Hendrik van der Post concurs, “The course was good. It taught me how to get my truck’s engine out, fix it and put it all together again!”

Support for the concept of life-long learning is alive and well at Petra’s Koffiefontein mine.