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“Mfundisi” preaches entrepreneurship, clampdown on importing artisans
Ernest Chinyuke is Forek Institute of Technology’s founding employee who rose through the ranks to be chief executive
IT was only by fluke that Forek Institute of Technology chief executive officer (CEO), Ernest Chinyuke, found himself joining the institution in 2009. In fact, Chinyuke is a founding employee of the college since when he met Forek chairman, Fortune Sibiya, by chance.
Sibiya had was looking for Chinyuke’s brother who had an Information Technology (IT) background. The chairman had heard that Chinyuke’s brother was helping someone to establish an IT college, and he had a vision to start Forek.
“He did not find my brother when he arrived. After I heard his story that he wanted to establish a college I told him that I could offer my advice,” Chinyuke said. His odyssey of working in tandem with Sibiya in establishing and growing Forek began then, and has not stopped ever since.
Chinyuke started working at Forek IT Services and when Sibiya established an IT training school in Mbombela to produce software developers, he was there. The IT Sector Education and Training Authority-accredited school later expanded to offer Engineering and Business courses.
Chinyuke’s first jobs were computer technician, facilitator, teacher, assessor and moderator and was instrumental in developing modules. The man known as “Mfundisi” because he is also an Apostle of the Divine House of Worship rose through the ranks and is now the CEO.
“The country is in short supply of artisans,” said Chinyuke, “and I was surprised to find out at an Artisans Summit in Durban that welders were imported from North Korea. Some trades are imported and we are trying to close that gap.”
Forek Institute of Technology, he said, was offering and introducing programmes that would enable graduates to be self-sustaining and start their own businesses. “We are not only training people but want to produce entrepreneurs. When we introduced the the Pest.
Management course, we had in mind people who start their own businesses in the fumigation business,” Chinyuke explained.
It was therefore important to research the demand for a course before applying for accreditation, he said.
Since 2009, 3 000 learners have been produced through our system – CEO Ernest Chinyuke.
Chinyuke said that Forek had resorted to expand to more practical courses due to demand while they keep offering the National Accredited Technical Education Diploma (NATED) programmes. “More people are looking for practical courses,” he said. More than 3 000 graduates, he said, had been produced through Forek since 2009.
Forek is now offering skills training to private companies and government departments and municipalities. The college has also been incubating small-scale farmers and developing them to be commercial.
“We are doing many agriculture-related courses such as fixing tractors, macadamia production and fruit packaging.
The college has been also offering apprenticeship opportunities in welding, plumbing and electrical engineering while also offering trade tests. Chinyuke said that Forek’s growth has it training Assessment and Recognition of Prior Learning (ARPL) candidates from various corporates such as Nkomati Mine, Barberton Mine, Departments of Agriculture and Public Works.
Chinyuke joined Forek because Sibiya’s vision resonated with him. “It was a vision I gravitated towards with ease. Forek continues to thrive even in the most adverse of times. Recently we were hit by the scourge of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately it was survival of the fittest but we managed to be operational,” he said.
“I have seen Forek from its stage of infancy till this day where it can literally stand on its own two feet. Last year we celebrated the 10-year milestone which is remarkable to me. We only started off with training computer and NATED studies and now we have secured accreditations for over 42 qualifications. All of this is attributable to the chairman’s vision for the company,” Chinyuke said.
The CEO said that Forek had developed a culture of respect, which has created harmony among the staff members. “We have a work culture that is collaborative, vibrant, supportive and there’s ample opportunities for growth. You would not be able to differentiate between the CEO and the general worker. Forek is a home away from home,” said Chinyuke.