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Allistar Salie formalises years of experience as a carpenter

18 July 2023

45-year-old Allistar Salie is the first candidate to benefit from the Tirisano Construction Fund’s Construction Occupations Development Programme (CODP).

Tirisano Construction Fund funded Salie’s participation in Tjeka Training Matters’ Carpentry Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning (ARPL) programme so that he could qualify as a carpenter.

This has long been one of Salie’s life goals. However, he simply could not afford the costs associated with learning for an apprenticeship. There were always more pressing priorities for this dedicated father and husband.

Yet, without his “papers”, he struggled to always find work as a carpenter and was never able to earn his true worth when he did. This is despite being very proficient in his chosen trade, a skill that he already started honing and refining at the of 16 while working with his fathers and uncles. They were proud builders and expected the boys in the family to follow in their footsteps and continue this long tradition which had passed from one generation to the next. While building paid the bills, they were also very passionate about their trades and proud to work with their hands, traits that were also imparted to Salie.

In those early years, he was exposed to many different building trades but was immediately attracted to carpentry. He enjoyed working with wood and it appealed to his creative and detail-orientated nature. Salie already knew then that this is how wanted to earn his keep.

It was Salie’s wife, Lindsay, who learnt about the opportunity to apply for funding via Tirisano Construction Fund to complete artisanship training in a local newspaper.

She immediately applied on behalf of Salie without him knowing. “Allistar has always worked tirelessly for his family, and I believed that it was about time that he also did something for himself. This was an opportunity for him to formalise his many years of experience working as a carpenter. My husband is exceptionally good at carpentry. It was only the lack of papers that was holding him back. I was, therefore, over the moon when Gawie Burger who heads up Tjeka Training Matters’ operations in the Western Cape informed me that Allistar’s application had been approved. I couldn’t wait to let Allistar know. Needless to say, he was overjoyed with the news and couldn’t wait to get started. We all knew that he’d make a resounding success of it,” Lindsay says.

The ARPL is an alternative path towards obtaining a qualification. Individuals who have worked in a specific field for more than four years and have a strong portfolio of evidence of doing so can apply to undergo the ARPL process. Tjeka Training Matters, a Quality Council for

Trades and Occupations-accredited Technical and Vocational Education and Training college, then determines if candidates are ready to write their trade tests. They may have to undergo some formal training to address skills gaps before they can write their trade test.

Nevertheless, considering his wealth of experience and skills levels, Allistar passed his trade test with flying colours and is currently working as a carpenter for a company.

“I am so grateful for this opportunity. Now that I have my papers, the future seems so much brighter. Had I seen the advertisement, I doubt that I would have applied simply because I would not have believed that opportunities such as these were available to people of my age group. I had long given up pursuing a qualification, despite ongoing encouragement from my family to do so. Therefore, I am also very indebted to my wife for taking the initiative. Once again, her motto in life ‘you’ll never know unless you try’ proved to be the absolute truth,” Salie says.

Sabelo Goniwe, a Project Manager from the Tirisano Construction Fund, praises Salie for his achievement.

“This is exactly the type of impact that the fund is aiming to achieve. Certainly, we want to play our part in developing the artisans that we need to take our country forward. This is vitally important considering the dire shortage of qualified artisans. However, we want to do this while also ensuring that the skills acquired by participants in training funded by ourselves benefit families, communities and South African society at large. This while also ensuring redress and the transformation of the local construction sector. While South African youth are a focus for the Tirisano Construction Fund, we also know that there are many older talented tradespeople like Allistar who simply have not had the means to complete an apprenticeship. We are, therefore, looking forward to also assisting more of these candidates in obtaining the qualifications that they need to play a meaningful role in the construction of South Africa,” Goniwe says. Burger too is inspired by Allistar’s story. “Operating our ARPL programme in the Western Cape, I encounter so many talented tradespeople, such as Allistar, who are also passionate and dedicated to what they do. However, without a qualification, they simply cannot achieve their goals, including growing and developing as professionals and as individuals. With the help of Tirisano Construction Fund, we are able to tap into this largely hidden talent to address skills shortages and accelerate the transformation of the South African construction industry, while also improving the lives of South Africans.”

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