An introduction to MetSkill’s excellence in Laboratory Training

This case study illustrates what happens when a skills-driven client teams up with a training provider dedicated to excellence.

It starts as any great training intervention does; with a client who prioritised the development of their staff, Pilanesburg Platinum Mine (PPM), and an accredited training provider, MetSkill (pty) Ltd, who had the same commitment to making sure that excellence is the outcome.

Our journey began in October 2019 when a group of PPM Laboratory Operators enrolled for their  National Certificate in Laboratory Practice: NQF Level 2 with MetSkill. Over the course of 18 months, Sam Mthimkulu, MetSkill’s lead facilitator championed the group through this journey. The scope of the work covered the entire sample process from sampling to fire assay and analysis. The training exposed the learners to site-specific theoretical knowledge through courses in the classroom followed by on-the-job training before the learners were practically assessed for competence in the field. This process allowed the client to ensure that the skills level was standardised across the board.

This was the first accredited training that the learners had received in their careers which heightened its impact and made it all the more meaningful. Benefits from the skills development proved positive in many areas;

  • the learners now have a deeper understanding of the knowledge behind their skills
  • the importance of the laboratory to the plant in achieving targets it’s their role in quality control is now fully understood.
  • the learners gained new confidence in their skills and abilities and are now able to actively participate in discussions around improving the work quality and effectiveness.
  • the training resulted in an accredited qualification recognising their occupational skills as well as opening up doors for future advancement in their careers.

Additionally, the training has had a positive impact on Laboratory Management. It assisted in identifying any gaps that were present in the laboratory staff’s skills and laid the foundation for a skills audit to assist in future succession planning and career path development.

The laboratory is seen as ‘the eyes’ of the mineral processing plant, responsible for process control information as well as quality control across the operation. It is for this reason, that the training has made an operation-wide impact, ensuring the operators are producing accurate and precise results needed for effectively running the plant. Skills development of the laboratory operators means that they now provide a better service to the plant equipped with an in-depth understanding of their role. The importance of producing high standards of results for short interval control and operational decision-making is now deeply embedded knowledge. In this case, a link between the plant and the laboratory was strengthened by the Plant Superintendent who was involved with MetSkill previously in the training of the operational staff at PPM. The support for the laboratory training from the plant improved competence and output and proved to be a key input in the success of the production team in exceeding production targets.

The success of this intervention was equally driven by the investment made by the client as well as the excellent level of training. An effort to keep frequent communication on the project by management, the Laboratory Manager, and the Plant Superintendent was a driving factor in the success of the entire process. Feedback from the client illustrated the importance of dedicated professionalism from the provider “We would also like to take this opportunity to give credit to Mr. Sam Mthimkulu for the immeasurable impact that he made on the learners in their learning and the relationships that he established with the entire laboratory team.”