Real empowerment with tangible results

Real empowerment with tangible results
Thandeka Sithole

Skills development programme empowers learners to save millions through innovative change management systems

The inaugural Clusters’ skills development graduation facilitated by B&M Analysts was held in Kloof, Kwa-Zulu Natal on May 5, 2022. The Clusters included the Durban Automotive Cluster, Durban Chemicals Cluster, Cape Clothing & Textiles Cluster, KZN Clothing & Textile Cluster, Eastern Cape Automotive Industry Forum and the eThekwini Furniture Cluster. Despite the persistent challenges faced by South African manufacturing companies over the last year, the latest of which came in the form of unprecedented flooding in KZN, the hybrid graduation event, celebrating over 400 graduates from various manufacturing sectors, was well attended both in-person and online.

“Whilst the event was spectacular and a deserved honour for all our learners, the real celebration was the outcome of the skills development programmes,” says Skills Development Lead, Paige Sherriff. “The fact that enormous potential has not only been unlocked but realised, in every one of these graduates is the real gold here. Individuals have been empowered to make small changes with a huge impact on their companies, evidenced in the quality of the learner presentations at this event.”

B&M Analysts, through their Skills Development division and its respective Clusters, runs the Team Leader Development Programme (TLDP) and Emerging Leader Development Programme (ELDP), through public-private partnership with funders such as the ethekwini’s Sector Programmes Unit, City of Cape Town, Eastern Cape Department of Economic, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, and the KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs. These programmes are delivered through Clusters to their membership which includes participating corporates like GUD Filters, BASF, Ninian & Lester, Bell Equipment and Canvas & Tent, Deneb, H&R, PepClo, Ferro, Foxtec Ikhwezi and Homewood – to name just a few.

The skills training focuses on applied learning – taking theory and converting it into company relevant, practical implementation. A perfect example of this was displayed by 2021 graduate Chris Ngcobo, from Deneb Investments, who utilised the training to more than halve the oil consumed by his department at IPP, resulting in a 75% cost saving for the company. Chris concluded his presentation by listing his recently acquired personal key learnings which include Project Management skills, Change Management, improved Task Delegation and Cost Management. By successfully employing all the skills he learned through the programme, both he and his team were able to reduce oil consumption to just one barrel per week, saving the business over half a million rand annually.

Natalie Kotze, from Bell Equipment, demonstrated similar positive outcomes from the ELDP when she presented her project on reducing the machining time for specific tubes. Not only did she improve efficiencies, reduce late deliveries, and save time and space, but she also led her team through the valuable process of change management. She and her team were able to reduce the time to manufacture a tube by 43% and free up 94.5 hours of team capacity to focus on machining other parts.

Historically, the Clusters held factory tours where members and their employees were given the opportunity to spend time going through one of the supporting company’s factories, learning about important processes, techniques and skills. Covid restrictions on factory access forced a creative solution to re-launch the Factory Tour element of Cluster membership. GUD Filters then delivered a virtual tour through their Prospecton factory to kick off this element of the shared learning programme for 2022. The focus of the tour was G.U.D’s visual performance management and implementation of 5S, key principles of Lean Manufacturing. Evan Slack, Divisional Group Manufacturing Director for G.U.D. Holdings, was at the event to answer the audience’s questions, many of them around how other manufacturers could implement similar lean manufacturing programmes in their own factories. G.U.D. Holdings was one of the companies heavily hit by the recent KZN Flooding, but despite this, Evan remains optimistic that the company will be back up and running soon, even better than before. Skills to empower their staff has been a critical component to their success and ability to quickly bounce back after a crisis.

“Skills development without meaningful empowerment and real-life application is meaningless and has limited to no impact on companies that pay a significant amount of money annually to meet their training quotas and requirements,” states Paige. “That is why this programme focuses on unlocking leadership and real, meaningful change that will perpetuate throughout the work environment and is relevant to each employee’s work context. And when we see their learnings inspire others and generate a ripple effect across their teams– that’s particularly rewarding,” she concludes.

For more information on supporting or signing up for the Skills Development Programmes, contact [email protected] or visit The 2022 programmes are currently accepting candidates.