The Gauteng provincial government launched yesterday training facility geared towards bolstering jewellery manufacturing and design in the province.
Speaking at the launch of the facility at Rand Refineries in Germiston, Gauteng’s MEC for Economic Development, Nkosiphendule Kolisile, said that the initiative would benefit the drive to expand South Africa’s minerals benefition.
The training facility, said Kolisile, will train jewellery designers and manufacturers in a unique way. It was conceptualized to impart both technical knowledge and practical training focused on creating and sustaining niche jewellery markets.
“Despite its mineral wealth, South Africa lags in mineral beneficiation, exporting its minerals as unprocessed ore rather than higher-value finished products. Given the strategy for local beneficiation, we want to create an enabling environment for the achievement of a stable market share for local jewellery manufacturers. A lack of skills in design and manufacturing in the sector poses an obstacle in pursuing our plans for the Jewellery Manufacturing Precinct,” said Kolisile.
The programme forms part of the Jewellery Manufacturing Precinct, an anchor project of the OR Tambo Industrial Development Zone (IDZ). “We have fiercely supported the establishment of the IDZ as a tool for economic growth and believe that jewellery manufacturing is a section of the value chain with the greatest potential to increase value addition to precious metals incorporating employment creation, entrepreneurship opportunities and foreign revenue generation,” said Kolisile.
He added that South Africa’s employment, gold production and exports have declined by more than half while imports increased between 2006 and 2010. “During this time, jewellery permit holders reduced by almost 70% (from 2600 to 875) and employment in the manufacturing industry halved (5000 to 2400). Local jewellery manufacturing capacity has declined so significantly that, in many cases, it would not be viable to produce or finance export orders”.
The project is run by the IDZ Devco, a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA).
Siphiwe Ngwenya, CEO of the GGDA, said, “One of the most exciting aspects of the Jewellery Design and Manufacturing programme is the care that has gone into designing the curriculum. This project provides a winning combination of design skills and the integration of market research with product development. Beneficiaries will gain valuable practical work experience and be exposed to international jewellery product development.”
The GGDA Commercial Jewellery Design Project officially commenced in April with 15 learners, operating from the Jewellery Council of South Africa. At the end of April the project moved to its new customised premises, provided rent free by Rand Refineries.
The GGDA has partnered with a number of organisations on this project. “Our academic partner, University of Johannesburg, has ensured that the highest standards of theoretical knowledge are being taught to our students with a view to offering the course as a post-graduate qualification,” said Seipati Mangadi, CEO of the Gauteng IDZ Devco.
“This has been boosted by Crieg Stephens Jewellers who are assisting with CAD training and development to ensure that beneficiaries are trained in the latest technology tools. Rand Refinery is providing the premises for the project rent free and will allow the site to be used as an incubator for the qualified learners as part of the Jewellery Village they are establishing,” said Mangadi.
She added that retail jewellery chains Natal Wholesale Jewellers, Galaxy Jewellers, American Swiss and Sterns will offer the learners internships with jewellery buyers as well as workplace training.