Quality construction training key to success of post-Covid 19 infrastructure roll-out

Investment into infrastructure forms the cornerstone of government’s post-Covid-19 economic stimulus strategy. These projects are intended to create many jobs during the civil-engineering construction and building phases and, once completed, they will also act as a catalyst for further investment into infrastructure by the private sector to help kickstart economic activity.

However, the success of this strategy is also hinges upon a focused approach to training to equip the embattled construction sector with the correct skills it needs to ensure high levels of productivity, efficiency, and safety on these large anticipated projects that are valued at more than R360-billion.

“While the most obvious benefit of quality training is that it enables employees to perform their jobs well, it has many other positive impacts on the workforce and entire organisation. An investment made into the correct training of workers will, ultimately, improve a company’s competitive advantage,” says Kobus Brummer, Head of Tjeka Leadership Academy, a leading specialist provider of construction-related training.

Equipped with the correct skills, workers can solve challenges and are more efficient, boosting productivity and reducing the amount of rework on civil-engineering construction and building contracts.

Notably, appropriate training also benefits the larger civil-engineering construction and building industries by driving up standards, while both public- and private-sector client bodies gain from higher quality and improved safety performance of the professional teams working on their projects.

Training also has a marked positive impact on the morale of a company’s workforce by providing employees an important opportunity to hone their skills and, in so doing, developing long and vibrant careers in the civil-engineering construction and building sectors. This is a significant benefit of training that transcends a focus on merely contributing to the scorecard.

“Our training programmes have been designed to develop competence levels to achieve performance goals safely and in a cost-effective manner – an approach that works towards zero defects by doing the job right the first time,” he says.

A seasoned built-environment professional with more than 40 years of experience, one of Brummer’s many career highlights as Head of the 20-year-old Tjeka Leadership Academy is helping to train more than 3600 construction supervisors for 279 clients since the registration of the very first learnerships in 2005.

Based on the high quality of its training, Tjeka Training Matters has also been appointed by contractors to help recruit unemployed candidates for learnerships.

In line with its focus on the built environment, Tjeka Training Matters also customises its in-house accredited learnerships and skills programmes to address company-specific needs. In so doing, it incorporates company processes and procedures into its training programmes to align them with unit standards. This approach ensures consistent standards, a better experience, higher quality, and greater safety.

Certainly, a significant contributor towards the success of Tjeka Training Matters’ learnerships and skills programmes is the support learners receive from their site managers and mentors, as well as coaches on the practical component of their training. Both skills paths comprise between 30% and 70% of on-the-job learning which, together with the theoretical component, make up an integrated and comprehensive learning programme.

Brummer says that there has been a marked increase in the demand for construction training, including Tjeka Training Matters’ short courses, as construction gradually starts gaining momentum following the impact of the Lockdown Level 5 and Level 4 periods.

“I anticipate this demand to grow, considering government’s significant focus on infrastructure projects, some of which are said to already be ‘shovel ready’. Including those that are still in the early conceptual and engineering design phases, they are extensive undertakings that are geared at creating jobs for about 260 000 people. However, the onus will also lie on drivers of these projects and the construction industry to ensure that they provide training that helps create long-term employment opportunities by equipping South Africans with appropriate skills,” he concludes.