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IOPSA and Africa Skills Private College join forces

The first solar water and heat pump training and designation testing session took place in May at the Africa Skills training facility in Thembalethu, George, and was a resounding success.

When I read the May 2016 edition of South African Builder, the headline that caught my eye was ‘IOPSA: refreshing and invigorating’. This has proven as true as ever for us at the Africa Skills Private College in George, Western Cape, when the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) piloted the first solar water and heat pump installer training sessions (for PIRB designations) in the country.

IOPSA actively develops the plumbing industry in the Southern Cape and the Africa Skills Private College is honoured to be one of the providers of choice to provide the platform needed for this development.

IOPSA chairperson of the Southern Cape region, Marius van Wyk identified the need for a training provider closer to the region. IOPSA members in the region were instrumental in articulating what their training needs are and fully support the development of the project. IOPSA assessed Africa Skills Private College as an approved training provider and approached them concerning the need for solar water and heat pump training and trade testing. Africa Skills Private College met with IOPSA national training manager, Nick Joubert, and IOPSA chairperson of the Southern Cape, Marius van Wyk, to start the new project.

First designation testing in South Africa

The very first solar water and heat pump training and designation testing in the country took place from 9 to 13 May 2016 at the training facility in Thembalethu, George. Nick Joubert started the week’s teaching with theoretical training for both subject areas. The last two days were set aside for a theoretical test. Those learners who were found to be competent were invited to complete their practical assessment.

Plumbing Industry Registration Board (PIRB) inspector Rudy Glock also attended the course to assist with content evaluation and to oversee the practical evaluation. Both IOPSA members and non-members attended the training.

Upon the successful completion of the practical assessment, the learners were awarded credits for the designation. The training at Africa Skills Private College in the subject matter areas allows PIRB registered plumbers to obtain CPD points for furthering their careers in the plumbing industry.

Rebuilding trust in the industry

“It’s time for change and it’s time to show the industry what the institute is capable of. It’s time to make a difference and time to rebuild trust within the industry as well as consumer confidence in plumbers,” IOPSA executive director Gary Macnamara said at the IOPSA annual dinner and awards.

Some of the concerns mentioned in South African Builder are:

  • the delays concerning SABS testing and the SANS standards crisis; and
  • the lack of skilled plumbers (not just qualified as plumbers, but qualified plumbers that have the ability to apply their skills).

These aspects have been addressed in this IOPSA initiative.

The solar and heat pump project proved successful with 15 learners completing the course. Africa Skills Private College’s own artisans also completed the training and achieved competence in the assessments. The course will now feature as part of the regular programme offered at the college (in partnership with IOPSA), to uplift the quality of plumbing artisans in the region.

This project would not have been possible without the valuable donations and sponsorships from partners in the industry. Plumblink George, Kwikot, Monument Tools, IOPSA Southern Cape and other nationals played crucial roles in making the training a success. Their contribution of tools and equipment ensured the ease of training implementation and that the learners were exposed to high quality products, resulting in training excellence.

Through the partnership with IOPSA, the Africa Skills Private College is now an accredited provider in the plumbing trade (solar and heat pump installer designations) and has earned the title of accredited National Trade Test Centre in these disciplines.

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