The month of June is about celebrating and paying tribute to the youth of 1976. In commemoration of Youth Month, the Aerospace Industry Support Initiative (AISI) recognises the incredible work done by the youth and the opportunities presented to young people by its beneficiaries. These young people play a remarkable role in helping local companies and small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) to achieve milestones in their projects and grow their companies.

This month, the AISI is shining a light on the roles young people play within the country and opportunities available for them to build a better South Africa. The AISI, an initiative of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), hosted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, supports local companies and SMMEs to develop and manufacture solutions and products needed, as well as transfer skills to enhance the South African local aeronautics, defence, marine and sector-wide advanced manufacturing industries. 

Brown on duty at AR Jones Engineering
Brown on duty at AR Jones Engineering

AISI beneficiaries have assisted to unlock employment opportunities and empower young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. In a project supported by the AISI, a young woman from Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape is making an impact in a male-dominated industry. Odine Brown (25) joined AR Jones Engineering as a welding apprentice in 2022. She was among 10 people who were trained to become certified welders and has acquired permanent employment at AR Jones Engineering as a red seal, double coded and pipe coded welder. “When I joined the company in 2022, I was one of 10 welders who were coded on the certified welding procedure specification and the procedure qualification record,” says Brown.

Brown at work, metal gas welding

“I feel privileged to have been granted the opportunity to take part in the project supported by the AISI. I want to thank the AISI team for the great exposure. I was surely upskilled through the project. The project provided me with a job opportunity at AR Jones Engineering,” she further explains.

Over the years, the AISI has helped South African companies and SMMEs through technology-based supplier development, industry development and technology support, as well as sector-wide accreditation programmes. Some of the AISI beneficiaries include AR Jones Engineering, Cape Aerospace Technologies, Micromax, Jonker Sailplanes and Sentian Aerospace, some of which were founded by young engineers. 

AISI programme manager, Marie Botha, says that “the dtic platform gives the youth of South Africa an exciting opportunity to further develop their skills and capabilities. My message to the South African youth is that capability is not the only thing you should bring to the table. You should also bring good work ethic and broader thinking to contribute to the economy”.