Adding girl power to tooling

Dipuo Sibiya challenges the male-dominated industry

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I want to change the traditional white male dominated industry perception – I want to be a force to be reckoned with”.

23-year-old Dipuo Sibiya is by no means an ordinary toolmaker. As a black female she is an anomaly in a white male dominated industry. In her own way she is contributing to a re-imagining of the role of females in the industrial sector.

Sibiya, who hails from Kwa-Thema in the east of Johannesburg, has eschewed the traditional obsessions of her female counterparts such as manicures and make-up to focus solely on mastering her craft.

Sibiya’s obsession with tools started at home. Growing up in a girls-only-home meant that she had no choice to fix things when the need arose.She recalls days when she sat quietly watching her dad with admiration as he fixed his car, where she would often offer to help. “From that moment, I knew I was unconditionally in love with tools, and that love grew very strong with time,” she said.

Sibiya is one of the fortunate students who form part of the TDM Powered Foundation and Apprenticeship programme, whose theoretical and practical learning’s she hopes will help her conquer the tool making industry. TDM is presented at the Kwa Thema FET College and the Denel Training Academy in Kempton Park.

The TDM Powered Foundation and Apprenticeship Programme is a competency-based programme which stretches over a period of three to four years and provides students with the basic, core and eventually specialist skills in the tool, die and mould making disciplines that enable them to qualify as toolmaker artisans. Once qualified, students can pursue careers in cross cutting sectors such as the aerospace, automotive, chemical, electronics, leisure, marine, medical, mining and packaging industries.

The learning content of both programmes is structured to include fundamental and applied theory, trade theory, workshop practical training and on-the-job training, providing students with extensive industry exposure and experience. Sibiya said the TDM Powered Foundation and Apprenticeship Programme gave her the platform to gain a deeper insight of the tool making industry The practical experience of On-The-Job Training in particular, has provided Sibiya with an opportunity to identify a particular area of specialization within the broader tool-making industry.

Through the Apprenticeship Programme, Sibiya had an opportunity to mingle with some of the best industry peers at the recent AfriMold manufacturing trade fair. The fair, held from 4 - 6 June at the NASREC Expo Centre in Johannesburg, helped Sibya to gain exposure to the industry. 

Afrimold gave me a platform to communicate with the industry in South Africa in a way never before possible and I’m extremely grateful to both TASA and the National Tooling Initiative Programme for the opportunities,” said Sibiya.  

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