Steve Parkinson has been appointed head of thyssenkrupp’s Technical Training Academy.
Employee development remains a core focus for thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions South Africa, a company that continues to raise the bar in technical proficiencies, digital technologies and industry standards not only in South Africa but throughout the African continent. Central to this drive is the Technical Training Academy which opened its doors in Q4 2018 at the thyssenkrupp Service Centre in Chloorkop, Johannesburg.
Parkinson is committed to creating a centre of training excellence that can be replicated at every thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions office in Africa. “I am eager to use my new position to make a difference on the continent through the Training Academy,” states Parkinson who brings to the table notable qualifications in manufacturing and operations as well as vast industry experience. His extensive job portfolio includes training delivery and development, compliance as well as sales.
The technical skills-centric Academy boasts unparalleled success with its first-class, in-house developed technical training and development programmes. ‘We are extremely proud of the third-year apprentices from the training facility who, without exception, achieved a 100% pass rate on the first attempt of their trade tests!’ says Parkinson. ‘This achievement has set a high standard which we most certainly aim to maintain.’
To ensure its students of a best-practice training, the Academy adopts a proactive approach and also included a collaboration between thyssenkrupp and the German Chamber of Commerce in the development of a Mechatronics trade qualification. This is the first artisan qualification in South Africa whereby qualifying learners not only obtain a South African qualification but also a German qualification. Currently two students are undergoing the Mechatronic pilot project which is set to expand to eight students in 2020. The Academy has also applied for the inclusion of this new mechatronics trade in its accreditation, which is expected to be obtained before the end of 2019.
Keeping in line with strategic objectives, the Academy develops and maintains MERSETA / Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) approved apprentice training programmes. ‘We received accreditation from the QCTO for both the Metal Machinist and Mechanical Fitter trades in July 2019,’ adds Parkinson.
He also reveals that the popular Commercial Apprentice Training Scheme (CATS) programme will be expanding to accommodate two annual intakes of students over the next few years. ‘These various accreditations and accomplishments are indicative of the high quality of training we offer apprentices. On the back of these achievements, the Academy is perfectly positioned to further grow its in-depth capabilities and footprint into Africa.’
The Academy forms part of thyssenkrupp’s Industry 4.0 transition in order to provide innovative, effective and efficient customer-centric solutions. Parkinson points out that the development and introduction of the new Mechatronics apprenticeship was also part of the move towards Industry 4.0, as this qualification includes learning about PLC’s and robotics; an essential component. ‘The latest digital technologies incorporated into the automation of thyssenkrupp equipment makes it imperative that customers, operators, as well as technical and maintenance staff undergo training prior to hand-over.’
Echoing thyssenkrupp’s strive to reduce its carbon footprint, the Academy plans to develop several e-learning programmes which will be made accessible to all employees. ‘We will also be looking at converting a number of existing customer training courses into e-learning’ says Parkinson. ‘This will allow us to further sell the Training Academy capabilities and programmes to customers and to offer them a cheaper alternative for the continuous training of their operators and staff.’ The Academy also plans to provide training participants with tablets with pre-loaded programmes, eliminating the use of paper to print training manuals.
Customers are essential in thyssenkrupp’s drive to develop exceptional skills in Africa for Africa. With a focus on getting closer to customers, thyssenkrupp’s account and regional managers maintain open lines of communication and conduct regular visits to existing customers. So when a training need arises, the Academy is informed and, together with the customer, specialised training is developed. ‘A prime example of this seamless collaboration is an online e-learning platform developed by the Academy which enabled the employees of a customer in Madagascar to access the required operator and maintenance training round the clock.’
thyssenkrupp is passionate about uplifting and developing underprivileged communities. The Academy holds a key role in this objective and is working on creating community development initiatives in which unemployed youth from local communities are equipped with an entrepreneurial skills course as well as basic skills such as welding which includes the provision of welding equipment.
A central driving force behind thyssenkrupp’s decision to establish the Academy was to train and upskill young people on thyssenkrupp equipment in line with company standards to the ultimate benefit of its customers. ‘I am extremely proud to be a part of this game-changing company and endeavour to help the Academy reach its full potential as a trailblazer in the digitalisation and automation space,’ states Parkinson.
Welcoming Parkinson to thyssenkrupp, Philipp Nellessen, CEO at thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions sub-Sahara Africa says that he is integral to upholding the Technical Training Academy‘s commitment to deliver exceptional technical training programmes that will set further benchmarks for excellence on the African continent. ‘We gave a clear mission to the training academy: We develop exceptional skills in Africa for Africa, and Steve Parkinson is exactly the head we need to continue and expand this mission.’