Air Products provides infrastructure for technical skills development in Newcastle

The project in Newcastle, where one of Air Products' major facilities is based, specifically aims to address the improvement of technical skills of learners at a technical high school. A few projects have been done at this school to date.

Unveiling of the Sesiyabonga workshop. L – R: Mr Mazibuko (SGB Chairperson), Councillor Hlatshwayo (Ward 17), Councillor Zulu (Municipal Speaker Newcastle Municipality), Mr Motloung (Sesiyabonga Technical High School), Rob Richardson (Air Products MD), Councillor Mthembu (Deputy Mayor Amajuba District Municipality), Mr Nzama (Department of Education) and Sizwe Nkonde (Air Products).

Focusing on the youth and education with their Corporate Social Investment (CSI) projects, industrial gas company Air Products aims to make a difference at the local schools in the communities in which they operate. Most recently, a Civil Technology, Engineering and Graphic Design Workshop has been completed at the Sesiyabonga Technical High School in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal. The building burnt down some years ago and considering the loss of an opportunity to teach valuable technical skills to learners, Air Products funded the project to rebuild the workshop.

The project is not the first of its kind at this school. In 2020 the Hospitality kitchen was renovated and electrical equipment was donated. This was followed by the renovation of the Science Laboratory and the donation of science kits for the learners in 2022.

The principal Mr Motloung, Speaker from the Newcastle Municipality, Councillor Zulu, and the Department of Education District Director, Mr Nzama, all shared the same sentiment of gratitude towards Air Products for the work that has been done at the school. They all highlighted the importance of financial assistance from businesses in the area.

Arthi Govender, Chairperson of Air Products’ CSI committee explains: “One of our major production facilities are based in Newcastle, and we have been assisting various schools and other organisations over the years. Due to the Sesiyabonga Technical High School being a technical school, there are synergies with Air Products’ business operations, and as a result, funds were allocated to the school for this workshop project specifically”.

Govender further explains that they are inundated with requests from schools for financial assistance as many parents are unable to pay school fees due to socio-economic factors, and said: “As a corporate business, we assist within our local communities. For all we know, some our employees’ children or family members may be learners or educators at the school and we want to make a difference. We believe that by providing the necessary equipment and infrastructure, we also provide a form of motivation and upliftment”.

During his address, Air Products MD, Rob Richardson, also mentioned that he is particularly excited about this school, as technical skills are extremely important in the engineering industry.

Mr Richardson concluded by saying: “We trust that our contributions at Sesiyabonga will encourage learners to make the most of this wonderful opportunity to learn technical skills as it will stand them in good stead in the future”.

Ribbon cutting ceremony with Mr Motloung (Sesiyabonga Technical High School) and Rob Richardson (Air Products).