Festo has been a leading worldwide supplier of automation technology and a performance leader in industrial training and education programmes for almost half a century. The company is more than just an automation supplier; it plays a vital role in the development of young people in the country. Festo is one of the companies that are helping to solve the country’s challenges, such as the lack of funding for further education, the unemployment rate and the state of the South African economy. For many years it has been giving young individuals opportunities to hone their industry skills through internships, apprenticeships and learnerships.
To honour its responsibility to the country and to industry, Festo invested over R1,5 million towards bursaries and sponsorships in the year 2020. In line with the company’s focus, these investments were funded the engineering department at the University of the Witwatersrand, the mechatronics department at Sedibeng College and the electrical engineering department at the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE). It further allocated some of the funds towards off-site leadership programme institutions, namely YES, Click, FURAHA and EDGE Training Consultancy, which focus on young people that cannot further their studies due to financial constraints.
According to Cyril Ramaphosa, technical vocational education and training colleges are critical in the growth of businesses and the further development of the economy.To boost skills development in the country, Festo is currently funding two students to acquire a National Certificate in Business Administration and three who are on Disabled Hygiene and Cleaning learnerships at EDGE Training Consultancy. Further to that, it is funding six more learners who are on Cookery learnerships at Thubelihle Graduate Institute and an additional ten students on Plant Production learnerships at Rasinkhu Investments. These learnerships are for the duration of 12 months.
“We work with various institutions to contribute towards enhanced productivity, industrialisation and social upliftment,” said Roxanne Michael, executive director of strategic resources at Festo South Africa. Adding to her statement, Michael mentioned that during this tough economic period, Festo has managed to enrol ten females to study agriculture. The skills they acquire at these institutions will help them excel in their respective industries.
Additionally, Festo donated a CNC machine in June 2020 to Afritshipi/Jwetsanang Trading and Projects. “This is a small company that we intend to work with on big mining projects in future,” said Michael. The managing director, Lebogang Tlakula, expressed gratitude on behalf of the whole company.
An internship gives postgraduates experience in the career field they want to pursue. Each year, Festo hires interns to work for the company. These internships prepare them for what to expect in their field and assists with enhancing confidence in their work. In 2019, Festo helped two of its interns start up their own businesses. These ladies now provide their services to Festo, as well as to other companies. The interns intend to grow their businesses and hire young graduates to beat unemployment. Some interns grow to work for other companies once they complete their internship period, and others start up their own businesses.
Festo also absorbs some of these interns into the company. One of the internship beneficiaries, Tressure Makgohloa, who is now a permanent employee at Festo, expressed how the company launched his career. This was after he made a notable impression at the WorldSkills competition in 2015 when he represented South Africa at the 43rd WorldSkills competition as a student at Anhembi Parque, Sao Paulo, Brazil. He further explained that he has never looked back from that day as he is still involved in the WorldSkills competition (one of the world’s biggest skills competitions) as a floor manager, and is now running for the role of chief expert. “Festo has helped me develop a set of skills that have opened a lot of opportunities to travel the world and collaborate with some of the world’s highly educated and experienced people,” he added.
Festo continues to stay actively involved in the futures of young aspiring individuals. The company’s passion for assisting and helping in developing the country has seen it achieve much good, such as closing the gap between education and industry. It has also managed to create jobs for numerous young hopefuls, not just in automation but also in various industries such as farming, marketing, logistics and more. Festo not only offers maximum productivity and competitiveness for its customers in industrial automation, it also strives to make a positive impact in society and improve the lives of ordinary citizens.
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