Intsimbi Partnership on skills development in South Africa

Minneapolis, MN – Capping a week of meetings and strategy sessions, the Intsimbi Partnership held a cocktail dinner on Thursday night in Minneapolis. Present were representatives from Minnesota businesses, the Minnesota Trade Office, representatives from the US Commercial Service, department heads for various Minnesota colleges, universities and training institutions and a South African delegation from the National Tooling Initiative (NTI).
 
Dirk van Dyk, NTI program manager, Aurelio Grech-Cumbo, executive director for the NTI, Carlos Barbosa a projects manager and Roger Skidow, a teacher at a technical school in Eldorado Park, Johannesburg were in Minneapolis to kick-off the work contracted under the Instimbi Partnership. The South African government was represented by Charles Manuel, Economic Consul in Chicago.

Intsimbi is derived from the Zulu word for iron and is a Public-Private partnership between the SA Government and the Tooling Association of SA (TASA) with the purpose to implement a turn-around strategy for the manufacturing industry. The NTI is partnering with Minnesotan higher education and training institutions to help train the South African workforce.
  
Willem Ellis, who runs the Minnesota component of Intsimbi, is the President of the South Africa – Minnesota Business Council. He brought together the NTI and Minnesota colleges and training institutions in a partnership that will allow Minnesota to send teachers and students to South Africa to train workers and provide expertise in upgrading the tool, die and molding industry.
   
Since the tool, die and mold making sector is a backbone of the manufacturing industry, skills development will begin within this sector to also be available to other sectors in manufacturing.
   
An agreement was reached at the end of last year between Intsimbi and Minnesotan colleges and universities. A signing ceremony was held on November 30th where the SA Consul General Yusuf Omar, NTI head Dirk van Dyk and Dr Ronald Thomas, President of Dakota County Technical College represented the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU).
  
The Need in South Africa
   
As South Africa grows and positions itself as a niche global manufacturing player, world class skills will become increasingly important. Due to the country’s history of apartheid, many South Africans received inferior education that left them unable to fill the jobs needed for the rapid development of the country’s growing economy.
   
In order to solve this, the government launched the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (AsgiSA) in 2005. By partnering with the National Tooling Initiative, the government was able to bring in industry players to help improve the training of the South African tooling workforce.
  
“There is a dire need for skills training.” states Roger Skidow. “At age 44, I am one of the youngest technicians in teaching. We need to really develop improved skills for both teachers and students. I think this Intsimbi Partnership will greatly enhance skills growth in South Africa.”
   
In an interesting twist, the slowdown of the US economy has meant that some highly skilled US technicians are without jobs. The result is that the pool of potential instructors who have expressed an interest in working with. The Intsimbi Partnership has increased in recent months.
  
Eden Campus was presented as an example of the successful partnerships between US institutions and South Africa. Dr. Scott Fee, head of the Construction Management program at Minnesota State University in Mankato spoke about the school.
  
Eden Campus is Africa’s first “green” business school. The goal of the institution is to create a place where young South Africans can learn how to become entrepreneurs. Steve Carver, a South African business man, set up the school 3 years ago. The school currently has 60 students. The school has partnered with MSU, Mankato to help enhance the educational experience of Eden Campus’s students.