Saint-Gobain supports up-skilling programmes for building professionals by sharing its technical expertise in ad hoc training courses. Up-skilling programmes for building professionals Saint-Gobain supports up-skilling programmes for building professionals by sharing its technical expertise in ad hoc training courses. In 2003, Saint-Gobain in South Africa identified a nationwide skills shortage in ceiling and partition installation. In response, it started an Academy through Saint-Gobain Gyproc, becoming the sole accredited Ceiling & Partition Installation training provider in sub-Saharan Africa. In its bid to assist in community development, Saint-Gobain sought to make a difference and recruit unemployed youth from disadvantaged communities and equip them with skills and experience in drywall and ceiling installation. In 2016, Saint-Gobain partnered with YouthBuild International to co-fund the training programme. Selection criteria: Applicants are screened and carefully selected according to criteria such as: Health Technical ability or experience Communication competence Values and attitude; and Results in the aptitude assessment. Set of competencies: Once a learner has been selected by the Academy, they are required to achieve competency in 130 credits. These credits are clustered into four subjects, including: Drywall - including safety, tools and assembly of components; Communications - including written and oral communication skills; Applied Mathematics - including calculating quantities and costing; and Workplace Skills - including understanding Aids, first aid basics and business plans. Competencies are based on a combination of practical and theoretical assessments. Students undergo a series of interviews and checks to establish if they meet the criteria required by the South African Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) for the construction industry. Successful candidates enter into the programme on 1 February each year. The programme starts with an induction/mental agility programme. They then continue with the qualification (National Certificate: Ceiling and Partition Installation NQF level 3). Saint-Gobain Academy is the only Academy in South Africa to offer this qualification. The qualification is made up of core, fundamental and elective unit standards. Practical experience and evaluation Once theoretical training is completed, practical training takes place. When learners have gained sufficient knowledge and experience, they tackle on-site conditions and challenges. The ratio of practical to theory is 30 per cent theory and 70 per cent practical. The Academy is underpinned by Community Asset Building (CAB) where students spend a portion of their time in practical, hands-on work, repairing or building tangible community assets such as social housing, community centres, schools, creches playgrounds and ‘green’ infrastructure, all of which reinforces the skills training. The learners gain experience and uplift their communities in the process. During the year they complete formative assessments to monitor their progress. At the end of the year they take summative assessments, which are their trade tests/exams. Once these are completed, an external moderator from the Construction SETA will evaluate their PoE (Portfolio of Evidence) and submit a report for accreditation. On exit, the students enter into a six-month aftercare phase where YouthBuild International assists them with career guidance and meets with them regularly to monitor progress. With Saint-Gobain as a founding member of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) the curriculum includes training where students can receive a “Green Star for Contractors” certificate. The objective at Saint-Gobain is to create sustainable employment for young people, so they are assisted with placements or setting up their own businesses. Beyond South-Africa Saint-Gobain has eight showrooms in Tanzania, Namibia, Ghana, Kenya, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Mauritius and Botswana. These provide customers with an opportunity to learn more about the company’s solutions using educational models, to share expertise with dedicated consultants and to explore the Saint-Gobain energy efficiency and comfort experience. Various thematic workshops provide practical solutions to customers’ needs and assist in improving their skills. Thorn Park Construction Training Centre in Zambia, which is an annex campus of Lusaka Business and Technical College under the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education, was identified in 2015, in partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Saint-Gobain to host a training course in ceiling and partitioning installations. The first up-skilling programme was launched in November 2016. A similar initiative is planned for Malawi. For training and subscription, contact: 0860 27 28 29 Did you know ? Since the Saint-Gobain Academy in South Africa opened, 859 ceiling and drywall installers have been trained. In 2015, 47 per cent of learners who graduated from the academy found employment.