Following the establishment of its merSETA accredited Training Centre end of 2017, Goscor Lift Truck Company (GLTC) has just put the last piece of the puzzle to its training revolution with the appointment of a merSETA-accredited trainer.

To build a pool of technical skills it needs to better support its product range, GLTC, part of the Goscor Group, established its own Training Centre at the beginning of September 2017. The Training Centre is aimed at breeding new forklift technicians, as well as offering skills improvement, refresher courses and continuous product upgrade training.

Lex Winson, National Service Manager at GLTC, who oversaw the establishment of the Training Centre, reasons that technology is changing fast, and it is key to keep technicians well-versed with the new changes to ensure that machines operating in the field run optimally all the time.

The GLTC facility is merRSETA accredited. merSETA is one of the 21 Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) established to promote skills development in terms of the Skills Development Act of 1998. The 21 SETAs broadly reflect different sectors of the South African economy, with the merSETA encompassing manufacturing, engineering and related services. In addition to accrediting education and training providers, merSETA also monitors the provision of the training, registers assessors, collaborates with other education and training quality assurance bodies and  reports to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).

After the accreditation of the Training Centre, the next move was to appoint an accredited trainer – Stephen Webb – to take charge of the training regime at the facility. With 37 years of experience in the forklift industry, Webb joined GLTC as a technician at the start of November 2017. Webb is a qualified electrician who has amassed a wealth of knowledge over the past three decades in the forklift industry. He has spent four years of his career as a trainer. His new career path was driven by his passion to transfer the knowledge he has amassed over the years to the next generation of technicians.

“After the accreditation of the Training Centre, we needed a qualified trainer with tremendous amount of experience to lead the training regime. Webb was initially interviewed for a field service technician. It was during his interview that we discovered that he had the much-needed training background. As we had already acquired the accreditation of the centre, we started working towards getting his merSETA accreditation, which he has since acquired,” explains Winson. 

The agenda

Webb explains that the facility will offer an NQF Level 3 qualification. It will operate nationally, accommodating both new trainees and existing GLTC personnel from around the country on an annual basis. For new technicians, training will include an introductory course to GLTC’s business, before covering the full internal combustion (IC) and electric forklift product range.

“First on the agenda will be safety. Once they understand the safety parameters, then we will delve into the different tools of trade. From there, the trajectory will be on a module-to-module basis, focusing on issues such as the engine and hydraulic systems. The qualification will cover both the IC and electrical forklifts. Over the years, training has evolved significantly. Gone are the days technicians would only specialise in IC machines, for example. Today’s forklift technicians have to be able to work on both mechanical and electrical forklifts,” explains Webb.

Winson explains that training will commence with participants from the Johannesburg branch and the rental division. “We are going to initially nominate seven people out of the two business units. For new technicians, we will be looking at young people who have been with us as assistants and have already been exposed to the requirements of the job. This will allow us to move them through the process quite quickly,” explains Wilson.

The second batch of learners will be those straight out of school, with limited or no knowledge of GLTC’s equipment. Students finishing up their college qualification will be given preference. Apart from college students, a minimum entry level requirement will be a Grade 10.

Dire situation

Winson says the establishment of a merSETA-accredited Training Centre with an accredited trainer is GLTC’s answer to the dire need for technical skills in the industry. Winson reiterates that technical skills are the lifeblood of GLTC’s business, and the huge investment is testimony to the company’s commitment to creating the skills it needs to better service its customers.

Winson reasons that there is a big difference between technical skills and technical ability – the two current scenarios within GLTC. “A lot of people that work within a technical environment may have the technical ability, but they might not necessarily have the right skills to put that into practice correctly if they have not been exposed to the relevant training,” says Winson.

This is where the merSETA training college and GLTC’s recently established Training Centre come in. “We can take a qualified diesel mechanic in, for example, but when he joins us he will not have the experience and knowledge to work on our range of machines. The Training Centre will streamline their skills in line with our own requirements. The insights from our training regime will be exactly what our forklift technicians need,” concludes Winson.