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Home » West Coast College hosts hybrid launch of RAC training centre

West Coast College hosts hybrid launch of RAC training centre

By Benjamin Brits

The official opening was held at an in-person, and through stakeholders and industry role players virtual connection, at the beginning of December 2021.

 The ceremony was well attended by around 60 people in total that included participants and international guests from Germany and Bavaria, as well as various local and national government department members. The ceremony took place at the new Atlantis Training Centre in the Western Cape.

The master of ceremonies and programme director was Mr Gerhard Coetzee, who also introduced the line-up of guests and speakers that included:

  • Mr Lungisa Mbulawa – principal, West Coast College
  • Dr Joy Leaner – director air quality management, Western Cape Government
  • Mr Cassie Kruger – DHET regional manager for the Northern and Western Cape TVET region
  • Mr Buti Manamela – deputy minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology
  • Mr Bernhard Siegele – programme manager, GIZ GmbH
  • Mr Thorsten Glauber – Bavarian State Minister of the Environment and Consumer Protection
  • Mr Anton Bredell – Minister of Local of Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Western Cape Government
  • Ms Babalwa Mtini – West Coast College council chair

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A collective emphasis between all of the speakers was the importance of the partnerships involved in the establishment and opening of the training centre through international governmental collaborations, and successful partnerships between local government and the private sector.

The partnership between the Western Cape Government, the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Consumer Protection, and the German GIZ through the Proklima/Green Cooling Initiative had been established back in 2016.

As part of phase 1 in the project timeline, nine South African representatives (two of whom are females), received training in Bavaria and also took part in Train the Trainer technical workshops to progress towards becoming refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) experts. The second phase of the project saw the connection with the West Coast College (WCC) initiated in 2020 with the intention of a focus on natural refrigerants through the named ‘RAC Pilot Project’.

The Atlantis branch becomes the fifth campus of the WCC group of technical training centres located in the Western Cape province and was established specifically to cater to the RAC needs of the industry and linked industry companies.

“The investment into artisan training centres aligns to the South African government mandates of skills development.”

The investment into artisan training centres aligns to the South African government mandates of skills development and therefore alignment to the National Development Plan, while training of artisans has seen significant progression recently. The youth have over recent years been pushed strongly towards professions, administration, and information technology as examples, leaving the artisanal field (that is crucial for any economy) in the back seat.

It was said that artisanal skills are important in many companies, manufacturing, servicing as well as communities. These centres upskill individuals and provide more opportunities to earn a living – which is desperately needed in the country both through employment opportunities and individuals being able to start their own small businesses. With skills comes opportunity and that in turn leads to hope, which is a fundamental requirement of individuals seeking ways to better their circumstances.

It was also noted that the successful result in the establishment of this centre was an inspiration to establish such facilities around the country and create the avenues to assist all students to become employable. This centre, as a state of the art, ground-breaking first, was said to be the start of something huge for the country and there was a call on industry in the region to look to this centre and assist in opening up opportunities for the graduates.

{os-gal-235} Images by: ©RACA Journal

From the international speakers, focus was brought to the fact that the sustainability of the RAC sector lies in mitigation of climate change and the adaptation in using natural refrigerants – and the reduction (and terminating of) the use of fluorinated gases in meeting the objectives of the Montreal Protocol and Kigali Amendment. The WCC Atlantis centre would meet the needs in this training and also create ‘green jobs’ with future proof technology as cooling touches many parts of everyday life. Commendation was also offered as the centre was established through the height of the coronavirus pandemic conditions.

In conclusion, thanks were offered to all of the partners, government bodies, technical advisors, other supporting colleges, and industry bodies that were involved in the setup of the centre. These included the South Africa Refrigeration and Airconditioning Contractors Association (SARACCA), the South African Institute for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (SAIRAC) and the South African Chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers.

The official ribbon cutting of the RAC Training Centre was carried out by Deputy Minister Manamela, Mr Lungisa Mbulawa, Ms Babalwa Mtini and the RAC Green Laboratory ribbon cutting by Minister Anton Bredell, Mr Lungisa Mbulawa, Mr Matthias Boddenberg.

{os-gal-236} Images by: ©RACA Journal

The official ceremony was concluded with the handing over of gifts to the local speakers and a symbolic acknowledgement of the ten students who had already taken part in the first training course offered at the centre (safe handling of refrigerants) through a handover of a certificate and photo.

After the official proceedings, in-person guests were taken on a tour of the workshops while online guests were shown various photos of the facility. The high quality of construction and installations at the centre was commended too.

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