What made you decide to become a manufacturing Jeweller?
I’ve been in love with jewellery all my life, and wanted to be part of a vibrant and flourishing jewellery industry. I wanted to play an active role in improving the sustainability of the SA jewellery manufacturing sector.
I am very passionate about encouraging the industry to create space to share knowledge and grow – I know we can compete globally, because the talent pool in this country is potentially huge, and is constantly improving with correct training.
Also, we have initiatives such as the AGOA treaty (The African Growth and Opportunity Act), a United States Trade Act, which significantly enhances market access to the US for SA companies – we are in an excellent position to capitalise on export markets.
Please give us some insight into your Journey as a manufacturer
It’s been a difficult journey, but we have never given up – for example, a significant proportion of our jewellery is imported (approx. 80%), from mostly the far east – this is not acceptable, because the minerals we use are mined locally.
Also, we do have great talent in this country, and it’s been heart-breaking to see our local manufacturing decline over the years – however, we’re now in an excellent position to capitalise and reverse the situation.
We’ve received tremendous support from MQA – they have consistently upped our student allocations over the years, because they have 100% confidence in our training.
We are also being funded by IDC for Phase I of our
mass-production training HUB – which includes capacitating our youth through our dynamic new programmes – we have also added a CAD Design suite to further enhance our offerings – we now include Super-Artisan training (2 trades or more), and are also embarking on SMME capacitation through sales & marketing training, business & technology/ New Venture Creation (NVC) programmes, to make their businesses sustainable.
We support them throughout the programme, and our new Hi-Tech HUB we are in the process of implementing, will further create a hive of learning and a centre of excellence.
How did you embark on The Pneuma Academy?
Because of the successes of our training programmes (90% placement rate of our graduates within industry), we needed to expand our programmes, because we’re seen by the manufacturing industry to be making a difference in the quality of our artisans graduated.
Also, because of our stepped growth over the years – we’ve had to self-fund the staff & infrastructure costs, in order to keep our students in a dynamic & satisfactory environment – but we’ve now reached a point where we cannot grow any further, unless we receive funding – and this is only possible through an NPC – The Academy of Excellence.
What are your main aims with The Pneuma Academy?
Create the Hi-Technology Hub – training top-level, mid-level and foundation-level students, which together with our best-practice training centre, and our trade test centre all under one roof, we are becoming the preferred centre of excellence / centre of choice – both by the industry and by the students wanting to train as manufacturing jewellers.
Top & Mid-Level graduates are trained superbly, for the highly-specialised hand-crafted pieces, thereby
supplying the manufacturers with highly-skilled artisans.
Foundation-Level students, who may not be able to specialise in the hand-made sector, will be streamed through top-level training on High-Tech equipment in the Hub – this will allow them to work throughout the CAD-CAM, casting & assembly processes required (Alpha to Omega), in order for us to localise the industry by mass-manufacturing locally, to start the reclaiming process whereby we will be competitive, especially as a result of the Rand to RMB exchange rate having now equalised our ability to compete on price. In the past (stronger rand), when 2 RMB bought 1 Rand, product coming into SA was coming in at ½ price – now (weaker rand), 1 RMB buys 2 Rand, making us competitive
Take selected SMMEs under our wing – ALL training process will be under 1 roof, with exchange of information and training methods being proven over the years, to make the SMME sustainable long-term – route to market having already been planned ahead, with no financial, administrative or operational headaches for the SMMEs, because they all work within a fully-equiped, fully functional, fully paid-for, secure structure – they will only need to pay a small % of the piece manufactured, not per month!
Assist other manufacturers by making our training IP available to them – we’ve already embarked on this strategy, with 10 companies in the Cape having already signed MoAs with Pneuma – this further removes a huge headache from the manufacturers, because together with CBAS, who operate on our premises and is a highly-specialist company who operate in the accreditation & training sectors of all the SETAs, take care of that aspect of their operation.
Up-ramp the supply of top-level artisans to the sector.
Through linkages, multi-stakeholder alliances, plenty of R&D and with a wealth of expertize and a proven track-record, we foresee that the free flow of information and best-practice initiatives, and also by keeping all our partners & stakeholders in the loop, this will have a very positive effect on the industry.