Corobrik, in partnership with Ethekwini Municipality, hosted a graduation ceremony on 19 September for 30 previously disadvantaged individuals who successfully completed a bricklaying course at the brick manufacturer’s Avoca training centre.
The conference hall at Durban’s Botanic Gardens was the setting for the joyful occasion as the 30 students were presented with certificates as successful graduates of the nine week bricklaying course facilitated by Corobrik.
Corobrik currently has three bricklayer training centres which provide CETA (Construction, Education and Training Authority) accredited certifications in the craft. These centres are not for profit and purely serve to benefit the community and provide a skill to previously unskilled members of society.
Located in Durban, Gauteng and the Western Cape, the centres provide training that is essential to South Africa’s construction industry.
Berkley Petty, Human Resources Development Manager at Corobrik explained, “Bricklaying is a scarce skill. Part of why we run these courses at our training centres is to ensure that there are bricklayers in the future.”
This sentiment was echoed by Corobrik’s Managing Director, Dirk Meyer, at the graduation ceremony, who said, “We’ve been running these training centres for 25 years. They are a key part of Corobrik’s sustained and ongoing commitment to the community and the industry. The benefit to us is that we see people uplifted and the industry growing at the same time.”
Uplifting disadvantaged local people
To see people ‘uplifted’ is exactly the reason the BSTMU (Business Support, Tourism and Markets Unit) of Ethekwini Municipality, with whom Corobrik have had a successful five-year partnership, approached Corobrik to conduct the course. In doing so, 30 local unemployed individuals were given technical training at the Avoca training centre in Durban to empower them and provide access to future employment opportunities through the skills acquired.
At the graduation ceremony, BSTMU’s Programme Director, Siyabonga Luthuli, said, “We pride ourselves on this programme for three reasons. Firstly, it speaks of partnership and we are very happy with our partnership with Corobrik that has been going for five years. Secondly, it gives people the skills that mean they can make a living. Thirdly, it empowers Africans to make a meaningful contribution to the economy.”
Dirk Meyer addressed the smartly dressed students with an encouraging speech, “We are a proudly South African company who are even more proud of our transformation activities and our role as a service provider to the Ethekwini Municipality in building a better South Africa. I am humbled to stand before you and applaud the talent and determination you have shown in completing the programme.”
The conference room was filled with waves of celebratory clapping as one by one the students were presented with their certificates. Six of the graduates were also given awards in recognition of their outstanding performance, including Nobuhle Mncube who received a trowel and spirit level.
“I didn’t realise I was going to get the award!” he said excitedly. “I am very happy. The course was difficult at first but now I feel confident. This course will help me develop my own business.”
Councillor Nkosenhle Madlala gave the keynote address, saying, “Our city is proud that this training is targeting unemployed and disadvantaged individuals. We are not only training our young people in bricklaying by running this course with Corobrik, we are training people in running small businesses, in contributing to the economy and in eradicating poverty in our communities.”
The successful students left not only with certificates but the support to take their learning forward and build upon this foundation. They have the option to return to one of Corobrik’s training centres and complete further modules which, alongside site experience, will allow them to complete their trade test and become fully qualified in bricklaying. BMSTU has also committed to supporting the students with further training, beginning with ‘Business Start Up’ education.