The decision by BHP Billion Energy Coal South Africa’s (Becsa’s) leadership to refrain from cutting the company’s education and training expenditure during the 2008/9 global financial crisis has proved beneficial, operations VP Wilco Uys told delegates attending a recent leadership in mining conference.
“South Africa was badly affected by the crisis, and industry focused on ways to cut costs. Usually, during such times, the first budgets to get cut are marketing and training budgets. But the mining industry is a cyclical business; there will be periods of high demand and periods of low demand. It is important to upskill during the periods of low demand to meet the demands of a boom period,” said Uys.
He pointed to the company’s graduate induction programme where company full bursary holders, who had studied at tertiary institutions, fresh from getting their degrees, were given an opportunity to work for the company and gain practical experience.
Before the graduates settle into a career path at the company, they spend 36 months gaining practical experience in all aspects of the business. Uys reported that, based on the strengths of the graduates, they would either be placed in the technical side of the company or the practical, production side of the company.
Without commenting directly on whether the company would increase the number of bursaries it offers, he said Becsa’s budget spend on education and training is 3% of annual turnover.