Skills development and training are key to the professionalisation and long-term sustainability of the South African roofing industry.
So said Jeanine de Meyer, Chief Operations Officer of the Professional Roof Repair and Waterproofing Association (PRAWA), at the official opening of BMI Coverland Roofing Academy in Roodepoort, Gauteng, this month. She was addressing the many representatives of insurance companies, banks and contractors, as well as suppliers and manufacturers of materials who attended the event. Also in attendance was JBC Roof Cover’s Belinda Conradie who initiated the concept of an academy that is solely dedicated to developing a robust pipeline of skills that are needed to take the roofing industry forward.
Notably, the academy is the first to offer a Waterproof and Roof Repair qualification at a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 2 that is accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the Construction Education and Training Authority.
PRAWA, whose members are all bound by a strict professional code of conduct, helped to develop the qualification. As De Meyer notes, this is a large step taken towards formalising the important work performed by waterproofing and roof repair contractors. The profession is still not recognised as a formal building trade. It is, therefore, also not regulated as is the case with other construction trades, such as plumbing and electrical contracting. Considering the very low barriers to entry to the industry, there has been a substantial decline in roof repair and waterproofing workmanship over the years. This has been at the expense of property owners and the reputation of reputable contractors, as well as materials suppliers and manufacturers.
Therefore, De Meyer said that she was encouraged that many roofers were enrolling their employees for waterproof and roof repair training at the academy. There has also been a notable interest in the academy’s recognition-of-prior learning process that provides experienced individuals with an alternative means of attaining a Waterproof and Roof Repair qualification at an NQF Level 2. Individuals who hold this national certificate are deemed competent to perform roof repairs and waterproofing.
This course is complemented by a SAQA-accredited qualification in Timber Roof Erection at a NQF Level 3 to provide a comprehensive training solution for the profession.
Both courses consist of theory and practical instruction, which are facilitated by skilled and experienced roofers who are also excellent mentors.
Learners, therefore, gain knowledge that provides them with a more holistic view. This, combined with training in other important facets of the industry, such as health and safety, as well as ethical business, places them at the cutting edge of industry practice once they have completed their training.
Certainly, the courses are also very popular among school leavers and unemployed youth who are enrolling directly at the academy or with the help of companies to attain a recognised qualification. “A vibrant roofing sector has the potential to create many more jobs, as well as skills development and training opportunities for South Africa’s unemployed citizens, the vast majority of whom consist of young adults.