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Energize Learnership programme addresses HVAC skill shortage
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Learnership programme addresses HVAC skill shortage

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A lack of local skills in the heating, ventilation, and airconditioning (HVAC) market has led Johnson Controls to roll out a human capacity development and empowerment programme through a local learnership initiative. The programme focuses on developing technical skills within the industry. Johnson Controls has accepted a total of 25 learners for its first intake.

Archibald Makatini

The learnership offers an opportunity for young people in underprivileged communities to gain HVAC skills which in turn increases the skills pool and promotes diversity in the industry. The programme, driven by Archibald Makatini, GM at Johnson Controls Building Efficiency Africa, focuses on skills development that assists the learners to build a foundation for them to pursue a career in the HVAC industry.

The curriculum consists of modules which focus on oral communication; interpretation of information from text; analyses of shape and dimensional space; mathematical investigation and monitoring of financial aspects; project initiation and the management thereof; administration processes and project documentation management to mention a few areas. It comprises a theoretical and practical component where each learner is matched with a mentor – coined the “buddy system”. In the last month of the programme, the learners receive a certificate.

The programme comprises two streams: The first is the Open Trade Training Centre (OTTC) programme where learners attend college training for five weeks in total over the year and complete the rest of the programme with practical work at the company’s premises. Upon completion, they will receive a diploma in working with Ammonia.

The second stream is called The Learning Organisation (TLO), an annual course where the learners attend classes for 30% of their work time and spend the remaining 70% in a practical role. Upon completion, they receive an NQF4/diploma qualification in Business Administration or an NQF5/diploma in Generic Management. With its second intake, the com[any hopes to train their learners on technical sales.

The challenge most matriculants from underprivileged communities face is the lack of funds required to further their studies. As such, studying towards a certain career becomes particularly difficult which results in fewer opportunities for them to find employment. Once completed, the learners will be equipped to uplift themselves by being better positioned for employment in the HVAC industry.

“Moreover, there is potential for permanent employment when the programme is completed, either with Johnson Controls or the candidate can apply to another HVAC focused company. Their certification ensures that the graduates are ‘shovel ready’ for any job opportunities that they seek,” says Makatini.

“The programme enables us to address inequality, the lack of diversity and technical skills within the HVAC industry, particularly among our youth. The programme will also help in lowering the high unemployment rate in SA,” Makatini adds.

The learnership programme also enables the learners to identify and pursue other areas within the HVAC industry such as HR, logistics, warehousing, sales and more. The curriculum considers the learners’ aptitude and personality, and based on this, enables the company to guide learners to different fields in HVAC. This allows them to move into other areas of business once they have the basic technical foundation of HVAC.

One example is Portia Sibiloane, a permanent employee who had previously joined the learnership programme and sunsequently moved into an Aftermarket Sales Estimator role in February 2020. Sibiloane is now able to provide day-to-day business support to the sales organisation with a strong technical background, enhancing her value with the role.

The company also plans to feed this local learnership programme into their international sales academy where permanently employed staff, including graduates of the learnership programme which have been employed permanently by the company, can further develop their skills, taking them to the next level of experience within the HVAC industry.

Makatini is passionate about human capacity development and empowerment. This will allow learners to develop themselves and have their own standing in the country. He stands by the saying “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, and you feed him for his lifetime”. He explains, “I believe that it is important for companies to do the right thing and give back to society and underprivileged communities. This is exactly the goal with our local learnership programme.”

Contact Erika Holmes, Johnson Controls, Tel 011 921-7100

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