Skills development

DSC 6848

Skills development

Building skills, improving futures

About Gibela’s bursary programme

In 2015, Gibela established a bursary programme that helps address the skills gap in South Africa. The programme is intended to empower students to pursue career paths that would otherwise be out of their reach.

The programme is scheduled to run for 10 years and, during this time, we plan to award a total of 2 800 bursaries. We have appointed two local service providers to manage the process, and they select candidates based on interviews, academic and performance.

The bursaries are valid for a year and subject to being renewed. They are open to South African students across the country with a written acceptance letter from a university to study engineering, supply chain and logistics, IT or finance.

Students at TVET colleges can also apply for bursaries to study a range of disciplines. Successful applicants will receive financial support from Gibela for both their tuition and accommodation.

Influencing the future: Gibela bursars make waves

Since 2016, Gibela has awarded bursaries to students across the country, most of whom studied engineering-related disciplines. In addition to funding their tuition and accommodation, we also provided support to help them manage their time and access the resources they need.

Of the bursary recipients, 44% studied at TVET colleges in Gauteng and 56% at universities in South Africa’s major cities. Participating universities include the University of Johannesburg, the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Pretoria, the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Zululand; the Tshwane, Vaal, Durban and Central Universities of Technology; as well as Nelson Mandela University.

Koketso Simon Khoza, a second-year student in metallurgical engineering at the University of Pretoria, says Gibela’s contribution to his studies has had a significant impact on his life. “Gibela has given me hope towards achieving my dreams and goals. They have done so by ensuring that I have everything I need to continue with my studies smoothly. Every time I come across a challenge, Gibela is there to offer me a shoulder to lean on.”

Bursary programme grows leaders of the future

Since July 2017, Gibela’s bursary holders come together for an annual week-long support programme every year. The programme includes learning, fun activities and motivational talks and aims to empower students to succeed in their studies. The support programme is held at Magaliesburg Youth Camp north-west of Johannesburg.

Speaking at the programme’s launch, Gibela economic development director Dr Buyiswa Mncono-Liwani said: “We all know about the importance of education in life. It provides us with better chances; it paves the path to success.”

Sipho Sikhosana, chief operating officer of Gibela’s shareholder, Ubumbano Rail, added, “Education is the only way we can build a successful and sustainable country. 

Railway introduction course gives Ekurhuleni students a glimpse into Gibela’s operations

Gibela has developed a Railway Introduction Course (RIC) to nurture interest in South Africa’s rail industry among students working in related disciplines. The course is run in collaboration with Ekurhuleni East College, a TVET college with campuses across Ekurhuleni. Through the course, Gibela aims to introduce students to our operations, and showcase how South Africa’s railway industry is being modernised.

Since the inception of the programme in 2016, the RIC has been attended by more than 1000 learners from Ekurhuleni East TVET College and Tshwane University of Technology. The course covers theory and site visits to our Gibela factory, and/or Alstom Ubunye and the PRASA Wolmerton depot to see the trains and experience what it’s like to work on the ground at Gibela.

Hear all about the students’ experiences by watching the video:

Railway Introduction Course May 2017
Read more


One of the best ways young people can gain practical work experience and prepare themselves for the workplace is through internships. At Gibela, we employ interns in various disciplines across our organisation. We caught up with some of them to hear about their experiences.

Meet our 2020 interns

Thabi Desiree Skosana

My journey with Gibela started in 2016 when I was still at Kwa-thema Ekurhuleni College. I applied for their bursary while doing my N4 electrical studies. The bursary funded my studies and provided me with a transport allowance. At the end of 2016, I completed my N6 in electrical engineering.

In 2017, I saw a Gibela post on Facebook saying they wanted a group of young people from Ekurhuleni for their 3-year apprenticeship and learnership programmes. I tried my luck, applied and was successful. I was placed under the Millwright apprenticeship, which started on the 2nd of May, 2017.

We went to the Saj Competency Training Institute for institutionalised training - theory and practical - for eight months. We completed our training on the 15th of December 2017. The following year we did our on- job training at Gibela. We didn’t have all the resources for our trades, so they decided to place us in different companies so that we can be more exposed to many different things. I was placed at another engineering company at Alrode South (Rodecon Engineering).

Nolwazi Mhlanga

I was hired as a millwright apprentice and we trained at Saj Competency Training Institute for 8 month. We then started our on-the-job training at the Gibela production site. When we learned about the train, and seeing it coming together and actually having a hand in making it, it was the best thing that could happen to anyone. Working with other people from different countries so they could share their skills with us was mind blowing.

I moved from the production site to the repair center in Nigel where we were maintaining parts from the trains already operating in Pretoria

It was amazing to actually apply the skills we learned at Saj. It was not only about assembling the train but to know how it actually has improved the known Metrorail train and understanding the necessity of every part.

Gibela has changed my life for the better. I was born in the township, raised by a single parent with four children. Because of Gibela, I was able to help with the bills at home and gain skills that I learned throughout my training.

Sharon Mazibuko

I started with Gibela in 2017 through an apprenticeship program as a fitter and turner. For the first 6 months, I was sent to a training institution to be trained for my particular role. It was tough, an understatement, but I managed to pull through.

In 2018, I was introduced to Gibela itself. I went to the plant and was placed in the warehouse organising parts for production. After 6 months, I was placed in production as an assistant operator and that was an amazing experience because I learned a lot about the product we are making. Around September, Gibela sent me for on-job training as they couldn’t cover the scope for my trade as a fitter and turner. I was sent to a company known as Novus Print and I worked with the maintenance team  After 18 months, I came back to Gibela where I went back to my previous station in production. I think my supervisors were impressed with my work ethic because they recommended that Gibela hire me permanently. I am currently working as a semi-skilled operator while I wait for my trade test date. What I have learned in this time is you should never want to be a benched player. 

Get in the field and do your thing!


Everything you need to know about working as an artisan

Many South African industries currently have a massive technical skills shortage – government figures showed that by 2017 there was already a shortfall of about 40 000 qualified artisans.

To help address this problem, Gibela has been working with the government to encourage students to choose and train for artisanal jobs. A big part of this, and a major priority for Gibela, is developing students’ interest and skills in Maths and Science.

If you’re planning your academic and professional future, you might want to consider a career as an artisan. There are a variety of different trades to choose from.

Gibela has a high demand for artisans in the following areas:


Makes, installs and repairs items made out of sheet metal, such steel, tin, copper, brass, aluminium, zinc and galvanised iron


Uses gas flame, electric arc and other sources of heat to melt and cut, and melt and join, metal parts

Fitter and turners:

Sets up, adjusts and operates machines to produce metal parts, and fits these parts together


Installs, maintains and repairs electrical wiring, systems and equipment


Installs, maintains and repairs electrical machinery in workshops and factories

Vehicle body builders:

Manufactures and repairs vehicle bodies, such as trains, cars and buses

A closer look at our artisan training programme

We’re always looking for people with the right rail-related skills – they’re at the core of our success.

In 2017, we launched our artisan training programme. Since then, we have skilled and semi-skilled artisans and technicians from Ekurhuleni, and some apprentices have been chosen to begin their apprenticeships at our on-site training centre.

Our artisan training programme wouldn’t be the success it is without the team of dedicated trainers that teach and mentor our budding artisans. We asked a few of them about their impressions of their trainees, the skills that are critical to the project’s success, and the most rewarding aspects of their jobs.

In the words of our trainers:

Arthania Nkoana, senior EUP manager

What is your impression of the trainees’ progress so far?

    Our artisans are highly skilled. We also learn a lot from them and have all achieved so much over the past few months of training.

    What is the most rewarding part of your job as a trainer?

    The most rewarding part of this job is self-development. Gibela has put structures in place for us to achieve this. Over the past four months, I have seen immense progress in my abilities as a trainer and have been able to transfer skills to the trainees’ enrolled in the programme.

    Kabelo Motoma, production supervisor

    What skills are most critical to the success of this project?

      The locomotive industry involves several special processes, such as gluing, sealing and riveting. Our specialist colleagues from France and Brazil certify that these special processes are carried out accurately. We have specialists on site who observe our ongoing training and make sure everything is done correctly. There is a huge transfer of skills on site, which contributes to the success of the programme.

      What is the most rewarding part of your job as a trainer?

      Senior management has been supportive and given us a lot of responsibility. It is a rewarding experience and a dynamic programme to be a part of. I have gained a lot of knowledge from the on-site construction and commissioning of machines, which is encouraging for my personal development and CV. I look forward to being able to pass on these skills to the next generation.

      Mogomotsi Viyuyi, senior production manager

      What skills are most critical to the success of this project?

        The skills we need vary and depend on where we are in the production programme at a given point in time. Some of the skills we need at the moment include those involving special processes and these are certified by our international specialists.

        What is the most rewarding part of your job as a trainer?

        The whole project is exciting, especially for my personal development. We are motivated and driven; we are accountable and understand responsibility. Everyone is encouraged to be aware of their space, environment and role at Gibela. This ensures the efficient execution of our tasks and is highly rewarding.

        Research chair

        Gibela has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tshwane University of Technology, focusing on railway-specific research and development at postgraduate level.

        The vision of the research chair is to pioneer cutting-edge research in manufacturing technology and the skills needed for the revitalisation of the South African railway manufacturing sector.

        The objectives of the chair are to:

        • Facilitate railway-specific skills development to provide capacity for the railway industry

        • Expand the scientific research and innovation capacity of South Africans in the fields of railway industry and manufacturing

        • Improve South Africa’s international research and innovation competitiveness, while responding to the social and economic challenges of the country

        • Attract and retain excellent researchers and scientists

        • Increase the production of masters and doctoral graduates

        • Create research career pathways for young researchers, with a strong research, innovation and human capital development output plan

        The value of the research chair is R25-million over five years. Read more in this article published in The Star in June 2018.

        Related links: