Tackling the construction skills gap, one brick at a time

17 July 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201915480

Construction, Civil & Structural Engineering
Education & Training
SMME Development & Support
Tackling the construction skills gap, one brick at a time
From left: Cindy Mkhize from the Balwin Properties - Foundation Assistant, Mbali Banda – Student, Muzikayifani Gedeza – Student, Siphosenkosi Sityata – Student and Derrick Dimba - Building School Co-Coordinator from Corobrik

THE recent Quarterly Labour Force Survey published by Stats SA indicated a spike in unemployment with some 27.1% of the country’s employable population actively seeking work. This is most notable in the construction industry where a severe skills’ shortage is resulting in even fewer people finding meaningful work.

Against this background, leading brickmaker Corobrik runs bricklayer training courses at three training centres in Avoca (KwaZulu-Natal), Lansdowne (Cape Town) and Lawley (Gauteng), aimed at empowering unemployed individuals with usable skills in the construction industry.

The latest batch of graduates, 18 residents of KwaDukuza, completed the nine-week bricklayer training course at Corobrik’s Avoca training centre, marking the achievement with the graduation ceremony recently.

“I’d like to congratulate every candidate on the successful completion of this course, as well as The Balwin Foundation who sponsored all 18 individuals,” said Berkley Petty, Human Resources Development Manager at Corobrik.

“This is a really comprehensive bricklaying course, and the dedication and commitment were well worth it. The skills learned will undoubtedly contribute towards the future of these now skilled bricklayers.”

The course consists of 14 modules which cover common and face brick construction. During the course, participants were required to build a three-room home up to roof height with gables, all the while learning skills related to laying clay bricks, concrete blocks and paving.

Derrick Dimba, Corobrik’s Building Training Co-ordinator, said the graduates would now be able to construct houses, garden walls and perform alterations, all to a high-standard of workmanship.

“It is good to be training people in bricklaying skills so that they can find valuable employment,” said Dimba.

This is the second group of candidates sponsored by The Balwin Foundation, a company which is busy with construction of a Ballito-based development. Foundation Assistant Cindy Mkhize said they invited local community members to apply for the training programme.

“We focused on selecting trainees seeking skills to start or grow a company, or find employment, but most importantly, we selected individuals who are committed to completing the training,” said Mkhize.

“We encourage women empowerment in construction and, to date, 15 of our sponsored bricklayers are women.” She said they had worked with many service providers who offer skills training but found the Corobrik course to be the most comprehensive.

“The Corobrik course is the best solution to our needs as it focuses on a combination of skills training as well as hands-on, practical training which includes setting out, paving and bricklaying in one intensive course. The Corobrik training definitely educates and empowers local community members.”

She said another benefit was that Corobrik continues to support the graduates beyond the training as they are added to a database and informed of any work opportunities that arise in the area. Some of the bricklayers from the previous course are currently employed by sub-contractors working with the foundation.

“We will definitely continue to train more bricklayers and possibly run another course early in 2020 in KwaZulu-Natal. We are also extending the Corobrik course to Cape Town in September this year,” said Mkhize.

Corobrik’s Avoca Training Centre has been running for 27 years, during which time Corobrik has successfully trained more than 1 000 bricklayers.

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