Boost for industry skills training as Achmat Geyer returns to False Bay College

An industry stalwart is back at the helm of South Africa’s premier boatbuilding skills hub after a break of nearly five years.

Achmat Geyer was largely responsible for entrenching the False Bay College Boatbuilding Programme from 2009 until his departure in 2017. In that time the Programme became an incubator for much-needed industry expertise, from basic carpentry to the finer points of resin infusion and vacuum bags. Geyer then left the Programme to take up the position as technical training officer at De Beers Marine.
Fortunately for the local industry, Covid-induced corporate restructuring resulted in Geyer exiting De Beers and rejoining the college, at first to assist with distance learning and then as Programme manager as from last month.
Geyer believes the skills deficit is one of the biggest challenges facing the local industry, particularly in light of the recent industry growth. Many skilled personnel were also taking up opportunities abroad in the absence of proper skills development opportunities, of the kind he hopes to reintroduce at the Academy. “A main concern is retaining skills – we need to keep the skills here. The industry is starting to grow at a rapid pace and there is a huge need for skills,” Achmat said.
Contact with past students now working abroad had also motivated him to make a further skills training contribution. “I got a phone call from an ex student in New Zealand to ask why don’t I come back (to skills training). I thought, you know what, I still want to work and I still have a passion for boatbuilding and ship building. I thought, I still have five or six years until retirement age – I will go back.”

One of his key tasks in the next few years will be gearing the Programme towards the new OC qualification; in future occupational certificates will be linked with apprenticeship. Says Achmat: “The qualification will be an OC Occupational qualification and then we hope to receive ministerial funding. At this moment in time the college is proactive in strengthen partnerships with industry and sourcing funding for the training of unemployed youth.”

“Then we can start training more and more each year and pass on that learning to the industry. We are training for the industry and not for anyone else.” To this end Achmat plans to reach out to some former students to help drive the Programme.
“God willing I will still be around to see that,” he added.

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