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Blended apprenticeship and digital artisan training proposed for Africa

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

This opinion piece, written by Creamer Media's Senior Contributing Editor, Schalk Burger, appeared on Engineering News on the 12th February 2021. Take a look at the original story here -


New approaches to artisan education in line with Industry 4.0 paradigms are being crafted that use a blend of digital training and apprenticeships, and are being proposed as a sustainable training model for Africa.

Digital artisan training facilitator BluLever Education is launching a new plumbing apprenticeship and digital training course, and is building a new campus in Johannesburg, which will have its first intake of plumbing apprentices this year, says BluLever Education co-founder and co-CEO Jess Roussos.

BluLever’s model has five components: high-quality technical training that is industry-aligned and demand-driven, developing mindsets that ensure willing attitudes in training and the workplace, soft skills development such as communication and team work, business and entrepreneurial skills development and Fourth Industrial Revolution and new technologies training.

“BluLever wants to ensure that the needs in industries are met. This is where the breakdown occurs, and we are creating solutions to answer these needs. A direct link to industry needs is crucial to ensure efficiency in industries and the relevance of the artisans and their careers over the long-term development of the industries,” says Roussos.

She adds that workplace readiness does not require an artisan to have a deep knowledge of new technologies, such as Internet of Things technologies, but rather that they have a familiarity with and understanding of new industrial technologies. This will allow them to work with these technologies, and become a core part of the change in industries.

“However, we also ensure that the companies accepting the apprentices are prepared for this, and provide the correct environment and mentorship models to ensure that the artisans develop core sets of skills, have workplace experience and add value to the business.”

“Skills can quickly become outdated, and digital training platforms and education models can help to ensure that artisans can keep up to date with the latest demands in their industries,” highlights BluLever Education co-founder and co-CEO Adam Collier.

The company held its Insight Series of online discussions and research articles on digital artisan training in November, which aimed to provide insight into the artisan training ecosystem and how the ecosystem can leverage lessons and successful models to better enable training of artisans across all sectors in Africa.

“A key benefit of sharing the lessons from across different industries and virtual training courses is that the training can be bench-marked, and the quality of training and the skills developed can be compared not only to industry needs but also expected Industry 4.0 requirements and skills,” says Roussos.

“One of the key challenges over the next five years is how we can create a representative accreditation framework that makes sense in African markets and creates a basis of trust. This is particularly important as we scale up our training and use digital training courses.”

BluLever Education looks towards local industries bodies and works closely with them to ensure the artisans are accredited following the completion of their training, says Collier.

“This is important, and is part of us contextualising our training to the local regulations and industry requirements,” he says.

Meanwhile, BluLever has a strong focus on multiligualism in its courses. During short courses, there are always two facilitators throughout a course with at least one speaking multiple South African languages to ensure students can ask questions and communicate in their home language.

Students are encouraged to ask questions and receive answers in a language they understand. The courses are taught in English, but the ability to ask questions and get clarity in another language has been significantly beneficial for students, and feedback from students after participating in classes has demonstrated the value of this model, explains Roussos.

Written by: Schalk Burger, Creamer Media Senior Contributing Editor

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu, Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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