Training and development
The Gibela rail project will require 1,500 artisans and engineers to build the 580 trains in South Africa over the next 10 years.
Some of these jobs will be filled by trained and/or experienced individuals, but the majority of positions are to go to men and women who will undergo training to equip them with the necessary skills and qualifications, as well as on-the-job coaching where they will benefit from working alongside more experienced colleagues. In this way, the skills base of new recruits will be developed and in time they will become capable of passing on their know-how to the next generation of employees.
Gibela is working with tertiary institutions, training centres and Skills Education Training Authorities (SETAs) to develop rail-related skills and provide bursaries and the vocational support necessary to ensure the sustainability of South Africa's rail sector in the long term.
As part of its skills development commitments to PRASA, some 19,000 people – engineers, artisans, technicians, train drivers and technologists – will benefit from training and upskilling in the next 10 years.
Critical to this training programme is product engineering wherein an engineering department has been developed and must be maintained to take over the design authority of the approved design of the train.
This department will provide engineering support in the various activities involved in the validation of the train and effect design changes for manufacturing improvements on various components. They will also be responsible for the design engineering of several variants already specified by PRASA: trains fitted out for 'business express' services, some with toilets onboard and some suitable for operation on 25kV lines.
Transfer of Technology Programme
Skilling and training South Africans is proceeding apace and the Transfer of Technology Programme is helping make this happen. The objective of the programme is to designate Alstom experts, in a various technical fields, from centres of excellence around the world, to pass on their skills and experience to South African employees of Gibela.
As part of the programme, an initial group of 12 experienced engineers commenced training in France in May 2014.These numbers have swelled to more than 100 employees who have received, are receiving or are scheduled soon to receive similar exposure. Training will last between three and 24 months in any of 14 technical disciplines at Alstom centres of excellence in 11 different countries, on four continents.
Some of these trainees are already back in South Africa, working on the trains being tested, and are imparting their advanced rail engineering and operational skills to their colleagues. Another group of 200 South Africans, carefully selected and recruited for their technical qualifications, are scheduled to continue in the footsteps of their colleagues in countries such as Brazil, France, Italy and Belgium to learn additional, specialised skills in train manufacturing between 2016 and early 2017.
In addition, some 100 Alstom employees from plants overseas have been selected to come to South Africa on fixed-term contracts to effect in situ skills transfer.
Another priority of the Transfer of Technology Programme is to hire and train South African women in every field, and especially in welding.
Gibela’s Leadership School
Helping people grow their careers is integral to our economic development commitments to South Africa. Gibela has partnered with Wits Business School and Maccauvlei Learning Academy to provide our employees with programmes that will enhance their career progression.
"Significant training will take place at Gibela's manufacturing plant, which means that South Africans will benefit from world-class skills within the rail industry."
Dr Popo Molefe, PRASA Chairman