Garden Route timber people invited to skills development workshop

Players in the Garden Route’s timber industry and in the timber industry value chain are invited to a stakeholder workshop that will examine improving the region’s timber economy – and the lives and careers of the people who work in it – through skills development and training.

Hosted by the Knysna Municipality and the Knysna Timber Initiative with support from Wesgro (the Western Cape Province’s tourism, trade, and investment promotion organisation), the workshop will take place on 5 October at Knysna Hollow Country Estate.

Knysna Hollow will reopen just in time for the event after a total rebuild in the wake of last year’s devastating fires.

Entitled, ‘Skills Development as enabler to the regional timber industry growth and development,’ the workshop is the first item on the programme of this year’s Knysna Timber Festival (5-7 October 2018).

The high calibre of speakers and presenters – all of whom have the deepest level of experience in their fields – reflects the organisers’ position on skills and skills development: that they rank amongst the region’s most immediate and pressing needs.

Members of the industry attending the workshop will have ample opportunities for providing their invaluable input.

Dr. Florus Prinsloo (Apprenticeship Game Changer lead with DEDAT – the Western Cape’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism) will set the scene for the day’s discussion through his presentation, ‘Skills Development as an Enabler to Industry Growth and Development’.

Dr. Prinsloo holds an MBA from the UK’s Henley Management College and a Doctorate in Organisational Leadership from the University of Johannesburg. During his career, he has worked at executive level for the Department of Labour’s Employment and Skills Development Branch, as CEO of the Mining and Minerals Sector Education Training Authority, and as a technical advisor on the Artisan Development System for the Department of Higher Education. He has also been appointed by the Deputy President to serve on the Human Resource Development Council of South Africa.

Paul Hoffman, project manager of the South Cape Economic Development Partnership, a member of the timber economy workgroup, and the managing member of H2P Project Management (a business consultancy concerned with export development, and with marketing and strategic planning) will discuss emerging opportunities in the timber economy.

Based in George, Mr. Hoffman is well known in the Southern Cape, having served as the senior business advisor and acting branch manager for SEDA in the region, and as the project manager for SEDA’s CBI export capacity building programme, which assisted numerous companies in the craft, design and small furniture sectors during his watch. (Situated in The Hague, CBI is the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries, a programme funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.)

Leigh Hayes, Western Cape regional manager of the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing Sector Education and Training Authority (FP&M SETA), will talk on ‘Timber Industry Training & Skills Development: FP&M SETA’s Plan & Programme towards developing and implementing Occupational Qualifications.’

Before transferring to the Western Cape, Ms. Hayes worked as the FP&M SETA’s regional manager for KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, and the Free State; and before that, she spent fifteen years auditing and accrediting training providers for learnerships and apprenticeships, with specific emphasis on quality management systems, learning programmes, and site capacity.

During a session entitled, ‘Mapping Industry Skills Demand and Supply,’ Dr. Prinsloo and Mr. Hoffman will seek industry input on mapping scarce and critical skills demand in the industry value chain (planting, harvesting, milling, construction, design, manufacturing, export, retail, etc.); SETA representatives will provide an overview of accredited skills providers and initiatives in the region; and Dr. Prinsloo will discuss the identification of gaps and project opportunities in the timber economy.

The morning will wrap up with an update on the Knysna Timber Initiative by KTI chairperson and technical director of Fechters Furniture, Morné Smith.

The organisers of the Knysna Timber Festival are committed to bringing young people into the timber economy. For this reason, they’ve made space available for representatives from Saasveld – the George Campus of Nelson Mandela University – to attend the Festival on Saturday from 11:00 to 1:00 to meet young people from the region, so that they can offer advice to anyone looking to study for a tertiary education here in the Garden Route.

Courses available in George include extended programmes, national diplomas, and bachelor of technology (B. Tech) degrees in agricultural management, forestry, game ranch management, nature conservation, and wood technology; diplomas in management practice, marketing management, and tourism management; B.Com degrees with various specialities like accounting, etc.; higher certificates in information technology user support services; and postgraduate diplomas in labour law.

There’ll also be a hands-on, painting-on-wood and build-your-own wooden boxes programme for very young children in order to expose them to the fun and possibilities of working with wood.

The Knysna Timber Festival’s programme of speakers, events, and entertainment for 2018 has been posted to

Members of the timber value chain who wish to attend the Garden Route Regional Timber Industry Stakeholder Workshop from 09h00 to 14h00 on 5 October should please reserve their places by mailing Petrus van Niekerk (Knysna Municipality – Economic Development) at

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