DOORS OPEN ON A BRIGHTER FUTURE
"ILLOVO SUGAR’S Technical Academy, situated alongside the Eston sugar mill, opened its doors on 27 July 2015"
THE academy has an attractive entrance, two lecture rooms, two work study rooms and a conference room, the Ilovu Conference Centre, named after the tree from which the Illovo River and Illovo mill derived their names.
ILLOVO SUGAR’S Technical Academy, situated alongside the Eston sugar mill, opened its doors on 27 July 2015 and in due course through those doors will pass a significant slice of the group’s agricultural, factory and management personnel. The academy provides a combination of intense in-classroom and on-the-job training to deliver Illovo-specific training and development solutions to address a deficit in critical production (farm and factory) and engineering skills across the group and thus help ensure there is the required human capacity to sustain the business going forward.
This is a fully integrated learning campus with academic facilities catering for up to 50 people and with accommodation for 24 delegates. Its position less than 100 metres from the Eston factory makes it possible to alternate between in-classroom instruction and on-the-job training, a key principle underlying the academy training model and the main reason for the Eston site being chosen for the academy. Eston is also centrally positioned in relation to the other South African mills. It will be easy for delegates to travel to these entities to study specific engineering and production problems and find solutions.
Initially, academy programmes will be aimed at factory foremen and area and farm managers and will be run over an approximately six-week period. Programmes will also be developed for senior supervisors and operators and the intention is to introduce “apprenticeships” for boiler operators and pan boilers. Academy programmes will not be designed to replace those offered by Shukela, SMRI and SASRI but will rather complement training offered by these institutions, with a focus on Illovo-specific requirements.
For management trainees (MITs), it is envisaged that aspects of the MIT programme will be delivered through the academy, while agricultural and factory programmes will be adapted to accommodate agricultural trainees (AITs) and engineers in training (EITs). The academy will also present the opportunity to extend the company agricultural programmes to Outgrowers. In addition, the academy facilities will be used for general management and supervisory development programmes and workshops, thus obviating the need to use outside training facilities.
A small team of permanent employees runs the academy. Technical facilitators are employed on a consultancy basis as and when required.
EITs (engineers-in-training) from across the group attend a one-week Boiler Awareness programme - during this week there were 60 delegates on campus.
A large part of the curriculum is presented in the factory, emphasising the practical nature of the programme. Classroom demonstrations by suppliers also play a major role in facilitating different aspects of the programme.
THE campus has 24 single rooms equipped with TV and wifi facilities as well as a laundry.
THE large diningroom can seat up to 60 people and is well served by a fully-equipped kitchen.
THE academy has a small team of permanent employees – VB Singh (second right) is responsible for the academy factory, Derrick Rein (second left) comes with 25 years of sugar cane agricultural management experience, and Angelique Williams (left) was promoted from Sezela Downstream to take on the role of administration officer for the academy. Colin Kyle (right) is standing in as Head of the academy. Steve Cloete has been appointed to head up the academy effective January 2016.
THE comfortable lounge area.
THE first group of agricultural and factory delegates is pictured seated in the academy Lapa. The eight-week programmes for agricultural and factory first line and middle managers are limited to 12 delegates and structured to allow for extensive practical learning. Programmes are designed to broaden managers’ knowledge and understanding of the operations they manage and to help raise the conceptual knowledge and skill levels required for resolving operational problems and for identifying and implementing operational improvements. Its location close to the Eston mill and with easy access to agricultural field operations makes it possible to implement the essentially practical nature of academy programmes.