By Reon Janse van Rensburg
Sol-Tech aims its training at self-driven young persons with a knack for technology and a passion for career-oriented work, persons who want to contribute towards establishing an environment that functions optimally in all respects. Simply put, Sol-Tech produces outstanding and well-rounded individuals by offering quality education and quality training.
“This vocational training college aimed at making young people employable and providing them with a future in South Africa for the benefit of the country, is not funded by major state funds or empowerment transactions but has so far been carried by the smaller contributions that came from ordinary people – hence the strategy of turning pennies into pounds thanks to the regular “Helpmekaar” contributions made by thousands of ordinary people. In this way, we have been able to make a success of Sol-Tech,” says Paul van Deventer, Sol-Tech’s managing director.
Today, Sol-Tech has more than 50 highly qualified members of staff and around 1 200 students in the various stages of training. At any given stage, there are around 600 students on campus undergoing theoretical and institutional training, while 600 are busy with integrated training in the workplace.
In view of the fact that training is so crucial when it comes to building the future Solidarity has announced a five-year training plan amounting to R400 million. The announcement includes plans for education and training, from primary school level to university level. The construction of a new campus for training that will be home to several training institutions forms an essential part of the plan. Solidarity has also announced that it would expand the study assistance granted to members and their children to R60 million over the next three years.
Sol-Tech is currently being expanded into becoming a comprehensive occupational college to offer training for a variety of occupations to the more than 70% of young people who are not going to attend university. The training is based on the German vocational training system. This year, Sol-Tech has started to offer bridging courses for young people who do not have a technical matric. Those courses are offered in Naboomspruit, Worcester, Klerksdorp, Wolmaransstad and in Bethlehem.
A great effort is going into building Sol-Tech’s own campus where a number of additional functionalities are proactively included in the campus and which would also significantly boost the capacity to produce students of quality
So far, Sol-Tech has only focused on trades related to the engineering professions, but it is certainly a further possibility to offer other occupational qualifications over a broader spectrum. Having its own campus will also offer further possibilities, including student residences and recreational facilities to foster a healthy campus culture.
“Our aim is to make young people employable. We already have major success when it comes to training artisans in the technical fields, and we hope to be able to achieve the same success in other career-oriented training soon,” Van Deventer said.
There is hardly ever any opening at Sol-Tech after the student intakes that take place three times a year. To have our training facilities filled to capacity with keen students is one of the training college’s key achievements, on the one hand because it ensures sustainability, and on the other because it ensures maximum impact and benefit for the community from this training.
Paul van Deventer points out that Sol-Tech sees its highest occupancy each year with the January intake. “Our previous record was 96%, but thanks to Sol-Tech’s ever-growing reputation and the first batch of new technical matriculants, our January 2019 intake saw a record intake of 104,2%! Without sacrificing quality, plans were made to accommodate the enrolments that exceeded capacity. Without the positive, passionate attitude of our staff this would simply not have been possible.”