Three years ago Ntombovuyo Madyaliti was working as a security guard at Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT). Today she is one of just four women in South Africa with an Occupational Certificate in Rigging and works fulltime for DSCT, where she is the only female rigger helping to build steel hull vessels for harbours around the world.
Ntombovuyo was part of the first cohort of 27 apprentices (23 men and four women) who received their rigging qualifications last year as part of the Department of Higher Education and Training’s (DHET) Centre of Specialisation (CoS) Programme at False Bay TVET College’s Swartklip Campus.
Colleges work closely with employers to deliver an apprenticeship programme. Graduates of the programme gain both the necessary technical training as well as on the job work experience.
“I am very proud to be the first female rigger at Damen,” Ntombovuyo says. “When I started my apprenticeship, everyone was so surprised to see me working. They were asking if I am going to be a lady rigger because they had never seen one before. Everyone said it was a man’s job but now they are used to seeing me. My job is so exciting because I am constantly learning new things and experiencing new opportunities.”
Today everyone who was surprised at Ntombovuyo training as a rigger gets to see her play her part operating the heavy lifting machinery needed to build large maritime vessels.
“This was a male dominated industry, but things are changing, and we know that we need to transform and give women equal opportunities. Of the 29 apprentices we had last year, 10 are women. This is something we are immensely proud of,” says Abdula Galant, Technical Training Officer at DSCT.
An integral part
He adds, “We are so proud of Ntombovuyo and what she has achieved. She has gone from working as a security guard to being an integral part of how we build world-class vessels, and she has broken boundaries while doing so.”
And Ntombovuyo has some wise words for any young women looking to break boundaries in the workplace. “Don’t let anybody tell you that what you want to do is a man’s job. When I started, I didn’t listen to all the people who told me this job is just for men. I told myself that I can’t limit myself because I am a woman, and that if a man can do it, I can too.”