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Siyabonga Dilimeni – creating value in everything he does

Siyabonga Dilimeni – creating value in everything he does

By Ntsako Khosa
It’s inspiring to come across professionals who are not only passionate about their job but are even more passionate about the impact they have on those around them.

Siyabonga Dilimeni a regional manager for Tjeka Training Matters is certainly one of those people.

“It gives me pleasure and joy to see young people exiting any of our programmes with skills and certification and I am hoping to see more and more young people benefiting from the quality of training that we provide and hopefully see them being meaningfully employed or running their own successful businesses in the construction industry,” says Dilimeni.

His responsibilities are all about construction training and development in the building construction and civil engineering fields. “Tjeka Training Matters is a registered private further education and training (FET) college and Construction Education and Training Authority (CETA) Accredited training provider,” he says. It focuses on building construction and civil engineering training that operates nationally and across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

Among his day-to-day duties of keeping the ship afloat, he ensures regular engagement and alignment with stakeholders, “Which will lead to win-win and sustainable relationships.”

He appreciates the value of imparting training to young people and the opportunities it provides them. He humbly states that his greatest achievement occurs often. “I am fortunate to be a beacon of hope to many hopeless people. Material wealth that may be perceived as an achievement but that’s not my aim.”

How it all started

He studied Business Management at Stanford Business College and is qualified as an Education Training and Development Practitioner with a Certificate in occupationally directed – education, training and development practices (OD-ETDP).

“My passion for the construction industry has exposed me to many skills within the sector, giving me an ability to develop and advise on various industry training programmes and assessment tools and techniques.”

And it was this ability to advise that led him into the industry. He started off as a labourer on site and worked his way up to site administrator. When asked by a friend, who was working as a contractor – to join the progress meeting, he didn’t hesitate. As he sat quietly listening to the group seeking common ground, one of the engineers asked for his opinion…and so the journey began. “I honestly cannot remember what that opinion was; but it made everyone interested in me. Two days later I was asked to join their project steering committee and participate in their community meetings, from there I became more involved and very much interested in people development.”

Changing people’s lives

According to Dilimeni, the importance of training and development in the private construction sector is undervalued.

“One needs to be mindful of the fact there are practical things that can be done to ensure that, if you do decide to invest in the growth and development of your people, you can enjoy a return on investment that makes the time and money spent worthwhile,” he emphasises.

He lists three challenges he believes the industry needs to overcome:

  1. Engagement and collaboration between stakeholders, from contractors to associations and training providers;
  2. One of the outcomes from collaborations and engagements should include training programme design and implementation where all involved agree on the programme prerequisites and certification procedures that will advance the roofing industry; and
  3. Business and government should invest in easy to access and have less barriers to enter roofing training programmes, which will lead to recognised industry certification such as the Institute of Timber Construction South Africa (ITC-SA).

For Dilimeni, being in the industry enables him to contribute to a better society. “ETD is about more than making money; but it is also about changing lives and giving people access to opportunities.”

Being in the industry for over a decade, he has been exposed to several projects and highlights an ongoing project with government.

“The one that stands out the most is the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) implemented annually by the Western Cape Government. I have been involved with this EPWP project since 2008, Phase 1 back then and this year we are implementing Phase 10,” he shares.

“The programme is targeted at Youth between 18 and 35 years old offering construction learnership opportunities consisting of two to three months theoretical training and six months practical training with a host employer. It’s a massive project both in terms of monetary value and impact to unemployed people in previously disadvantaged communities.”

Up, up and away

Predicting the future is about creating it; he’s ready to take up leadership roles within the sector.

“For me, leadership is about creating value in whatever you do and leaving something better than you found. I believe I can build a business not only for the next quarter, but also for the next quarter of a century. All it takes is doing what’s right and necessary now so that our future prospects are not harmed but enhanced.”

He would like to continue his pursuit of professional education to complement his passion and talent. “Work smart and fail forward! Don’t spend your present hoping the past was different. Your future happiness is about owning your present thoughts, actions and beliefs,” he concludes.

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