Training & Education

Swellendam’s Technology Winter School

June 2019 Training & Education

On an otherwise ordinary working day during 2015, Wynand Kotzé and Johan Reyneke discussed the ‘challenges’ young people face when making a career choice. They both had children about to finish school who would soon need to start a study or work career.

They decided to launch a technology workshop at the Automation Works premises for a few of the young people of Swellendam during the year’s winter holidays. They visited the two local high schools – Swellendam Secondary and Swellendam High School – to invite learners to attend the planned workshop.

The interest from students was so great that the pair decided to host a formal Technology Winter School in the town’s SSK Lecture Hall, which could accommodate some 50 learners. They invited the Engineering Schools of Stellenbosch University, CPUT, Northlink College, Cape Town School of Engineering (CTSE), Festo and Festo Didactic, Siemens and VEGA to do technology workshops where the learners could get hands-on exposure to modern technology and different career opportunities.

In summary, the Technology Winter School has been running for the past four years in Swellendam, as well as an extra one last year at Northpine Technical High in Cape Town, on request of the WCED. Three Technology Expos at Oakdale, Augsburg and Paarl Boland were also held, which successfully reached 1200 Grade 9 learners of the Western Cape. In addition, a one day Expo for 150 technology teachers in Cape Town was conducted on request of the WCED and the MEC, Minister Debbie Schafer, who attended the 2017 Winter School in Swellendam, herself.

Ten learners are offered the opportunity of a Skills Training Program at Automation Works in Swellendam with the focus on getting them ready to accept job placement opportunities. This has resulted in 30 learners successfully trained; out of which, 24 also found job placements at companies close to their homes.

When Kotzé and Reyneke first discussed the challenges young people face, they never imagined it would lead to this career development vehicle. The lesson learned is that if you believe in something good, don’t wait for funding to materialise from somewhere before you begin. Just get started with what you have, put your heart and soul into it, and the rest will follow in time

For more information contact Johan Reyneke, Automation Works, +27 28 514 2587,,

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