This has been the strategy to date for ACRA’s first female air conditioning and refrigeration training facilitator, Karabo Mazibuko.
As a highly goal orientated individual, Mazibuko has had her fair share of moving around – being drawn to various opportunities she wanted to pursue. Her view here being that nothing comes easy and so making the best of each open door, one needs to always take on the challenge and give the best of your abilities.
Having had exposure through her studies to many business-type elements, it was really the hands-on aspects that she was excited by and noted that the thought of being stuck doing paperwork all day was not a good fit for her, while being handy is fulfilling and the reason she decided to engage the trades.
Gaining a qualification in the electrical space first, her entrance to the HVACR world came about through a TVET programme aimed at qualifying candidates to be skilled in air conditioning and refrigeration, and safe handling of refrigerants, which was sponsored by the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA).
“That opportunity afforded the view of a huge gap in this market. Although I was very sceptical before I took the step into the HVACR world, I quickly realised how broad the refrigeration industry actually is and the possibilities it holds – from small scale aircon maintenance to entire plant management, and training of course. I knew then that this would definitely be a good industry to be a part of. No matter what challenges you may face with something new like this, I always believe that when you have the right attitude, everything else just falls into place”, Mazibuko says.
By completion of the HVACR programme with the HWSETA, Mazibuko got involved as a moderator at a local TVET college. On seeing her potential and confidence (not to mention her solid sales pitch as an employment candidate), it was an easy decision to onboard her into the ranks as a junior facilitator at the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Academy (ACRA) in Johannesburg.
Mazibuko is a solid backer of education – particularly in the trades and has the opinion that training is important because education helps people to grow but also lets them realise the impact specifically working in the HVACR sectors has – not only from a service point of view, but also in terms of the environment, global warming, and ozone depletion that have a direct link to future generations. Safety is also a high priority in her world where training is necessary for artisans on how to work and operate to ensure a safe workplace for themselves and others. Mazibuko further notes that training provides upskilling, but on the converse the interaction with people who are out in the field gives facilitators different viewpoints too to keep on learning every day.
As a historically male-dominated industry, Mazibuko is further very optimistic of her representation as a woman and facilitator to learners. “Women (generally) are known to be far more patient in an educational environment and that means the learner gets a more thorough understanding of the subject matter and even if you have to explain a concept over and over, it’s not a big deal. Secondly, holding a position such as this is likely to attract more ladies to the sector to better balance the proportions, and to top that, women can see first-hand that this sector can be a place where they can be successful too – so a change from the assumption of only having the option to become someone who wears dirty overalls every day!”.
Considering why she would promote women joining the industry, Mazibuko highlighted that the entire sector is extremely interesting and holds many challenges so if anyone, in fact, enjoys problem solving, this is definitely the place to look as you get to troubleshoot methods and ideas in mechanical, heating and cooling, or electrical aspects.
“Regardless of circumstances or gender, even acknowledging what people may have dealt with as historical norms – such as that women were typically ‘domestic beings’, people need to know that no matter what you put your mind to, you can achieve it! Everyone has the opportunity to expand themselves and therefore their potential…all you need to do is change the way you think and the effort you put in”, Mazibuko concludes.