Solidarity built this R200 million ‘alternative’ college campus in just a year

 ·12 Feb 2021

Trade Union Solidarity has announced the completion of its new Sol-Tech Occupational Training College campus in Gauteng.

Funded entirely by community investments, the campus is part of a R300 million project which consists of the education campus and a student residential complex, development of which is currently underway.

The campus as a stand-alone development was a few million below R200 million in total, the trade union said. It added that the construction period from ground breaking to occupation by Sol-Tech was approximately 15 months.

Solidarity said that the campus is now the new home of Sol-Tech, and facilities previously used were leased and terminated with the move to the new campus.

Solidarity said that its next major project is the construction of the Akademia campus where education will be offered through Afrikaans as the medium of instruction.

Projects included in the Solidarity network pipeline include:

  • A comprehensive alternative school system;
  • Occupational training;
  • A university;
  • Financial aid for education;
  • A youth movement;
  • A network of occupational guilds;
  • Mentorships;
  • Job placement;
  • Protection in the workplace;
  • Continued education.

Solidarity said that that Sol-Tech students achieve a pass rate of 96% in the national trade test.

The group also boasts that 57% of students have been offered jobs by the end of their training, while the remainder are employed within six months after qualifying. More than 20% start their own businesses, the group said.

Solidarity said that Sol-Tech specialises in technical training and presently offers the following trades as registered on the Trades and Occupational Qualification sub-framework of the National Qualifications Framework:

  • Diesel mechanic
  • Electrician
  • Millwright
  • Fitter and Turner
  • Toolmaker
  • Welder
  • Tractor Mechanic

In addition to the above, Sol-Tech also offers an accredited qualification specifically focussed on technical training skills enabling qualified artisans with an access route into training and development as a career:

  • Occupational Trainer (Specialisation Technical)

The group said that the following programmes are presently earmarked for future provision:

  • Auto Electrician
  • Megatronics
  • Aircon and Refrigeration

Several Part-Qualifications and Specialisations are also currently offered or envisaged for implementation within the next two years:

  • PLC
  • CNC
  • Wireman’s License
  • Shield Metal Arc Welding
  • Lathe Operator
  • General Maintenance

Solidarity said that the new campus also provides opportunities for expansion of scope to include a number of qualifications specifically focussed on occupations outside the technical field.

Medium to long-term strategic plans to enable more opportunities for females are presently being scoped.

Speaking at the launch of the project in 2019, Dr Dirk Hermann, Solidarity chief operations officer said that the strength of Sol-Tech and of its new campus lies in the fact that it is being built by the community.

“Every Solidarity member donates R10 to a Building Fund each month,” he said.

“Thousands of members of the public donate smaller amounts each month to make the building of institutions such as Sol-Tech possible.

“What we see here is not the product of state money or major empowerment money, but of small contributions by the thousands adding up to make something big happen.”

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