CoreSlab ranks skills development high on the agenda

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CoreSlab continues to invest heavily into skills development and training to ensure the future sustainability of the South African precast concrete sector and larger construction industry.

Both the company’s sophisticated factory in Polokwane, Limpopo, as well as many construction sites have become fertile training grounds for talented young built environment professionals who want to hone their competencies and gain a solid foothold in the civil construction and building industries.

A case in point is the very successful career of Clifford Mogale, who through his own sheer hard work and determination, has rapidly risen up the ranks to the point where he is now directly involved in managing many of the company’s key projects.

Mogale remains very passionate about construction and, even more so, the precast-concrete sector which, he says, has afforded him ample opportunity to gain a vast range of experience and knowledge.

He first decided to exchange a suit and tie for a hard hat, safety vest and a pair of work boots in 2008 when he applied for a position at the then fledgling CoreSlab after completing his schooling.

“I was intrigued by this company that had just opened its doors in Polokwane. People told me that it was already very involved in a wide variety of construction projects. Interested in this industry from a very young age, I decided to apply for any available position to kick-start my dream career. This proved to be one of the most informed decisions I have ever made and I have since never looked back,” Mogale says.

Over the past nine years, Mogale has been involved in most aspects of the precast-concrete value chain, including serving a number of important years right in the heart of the operation, namely the factory.

This is where most of the jobs are created in the precast-concrete value chain, supporting government’s drive to use the roll-out of critical infrastructure to create many employment opportunities. This is in addition to developing the future skills and capabilities of South Africans to grow the economy.

These permanent construction employees also work in a controlled setting and at ground level when manufacturing the various high-quality precast concrete elements that make up CoreSlab’s many systems.

Mogale would go on to thrive in this environment and, in a very short period of time, he was promoted to oversee the extrusion lines and then to assist in shouldering the immense responsibility of inspecting the quality of the precast-concrete elements before they are dispatched to CoreSlab’s many construction sites.

His stellar work serving in these and other roles, including as a highly proficient mobile crane operator on the company’s many fast-paced construction sites, paved the way forward for further career advancement.

However, he concurs that a significant stepping stone in his career was accepting a promotion as an assistant surveyor, which would provide even more scope for learning and, importantly, the chance to assume additional responsibility.

“I learnt so much in those three years,” Mogale exclaims.

“Importantly, they afforded me enough time in which to build up the confidence I would later need to exercise my duties as a project manager for the company. This is considering that there is simply no room for error in surveying, and this would prepare me for my current role. As a project manager, I sell and supervise the high quality construction of our precast concrete systems.”

Meanwhile, CoreSlab continues to support its many training and development initiatives with a robust succession strategy which, among others, includes providing built-environment university students the opportunity to gain important workplace training during their vacations.

For example, many University of Venda built-environment students, including those studying civil engineering, were afforded the opportunity to work alongside seasoned project managers, Gerhard Foord and Anthony Motau, on a six-storey hotel build in Sibasa.

This is just one of CoreSlab’s many flagship projects, and its technical complexity provided these young minds ample opportunity to apply their learning on a real construction project, and two of the most enterprising students were offered full time positions at the company.

Foord, who was the manager of this project, says he remains impressed by the enthusiasm that the students displayed while working alongside members of his own team.

“Importantly, this approach also exposes the future engineers and architects, as well as representatives of civil-engineering and building contracting companies to the many benefits of constructing with precast-concrete. This is a tried-and-tested approach to building in more developed economies, and it is yet to reach its full potential in South Africa,” he concludes.

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