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19 July 2023

The ageing population of paint technologists in South Africa makes training of new professionals in the coatings industry imperative, says Tara Benn, executive director of the SA Paint Manufacturing Association (SAPMA).

Benn feels SAPMA members should guard against apathy regarding training especially after the pandemic – coupled with disruptions and closure of the government-sanctioned training that was previously available from SAPMA – had shifted corporate focus away from investing in the long-term future.

“The number of coatings technologists in South Africa is totally inadequate. Many of the country’s leading paint chemists have left the industry, or are heading for retirement, so the training of new technologists has never been more important. Training ensures that paint production staff understand the specific processes and standards required to produce high-quality paint consistently. They learn about the ingredients, mixing ratios, and techniques involved in producing paint that meets the desired specifications. Proper training helps minimise variations in colour, texture, and performance, resulting in consistent cost-saving quality across batches.

“Properly trained technologists can control the paint production process, including equipment operation, material handling, and workflow optimisation. They can identify bottlenecks, troubleshoot issues, and implement best practices to improve efficiency and productivity. Well-trained staff can minimise downtime, reduce waste, and streamline operations, leading to cost savings for their companies,” Benn explains.

She says members of the coatings sector should realise that SAPMA not only still offers high-level training but, in fact, provides some of the world’s most respected training through its association with the British Coatings Federation (BCF) Coatings Training Institute. The BCF range of training courses cover different aspects of coatings technology, including paint manufacturing, surface preparation, application techniques, coatings chemistry, and quality control.

 SAPMA last year had 27 students enrolled for these SAPMA/BCF training modules.  This year, it was decided to run three semesters for students to register with the third 2023 training scheduled to run from September to November. “We have had exceptionally positive feedback from students who have completed the BCF modules with SAPMA. A student in Cape Town, for example, completed no fewer than six modules last year.” 

For the SAPMA/BCF distance learning, students work through modules by downloading the coursework material from a study portal, and complete online assessments and written tests at the end of modules.

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