Sumitomo Rubber Factory Tour Programme Gets into High Gear for Youth Month

In celebration of Youth Month, 60 Grade 9 learners from Colenso Combined School were led on a fascinating journey into the world of tyre manufacturing at Sumitomo Rubber South Africa’s (SRSA) Dunlop Tyres plant in Ladysmith. The educational tour, arranged by SRSA as part of its Factory Tour Programme for local schools, provided learners with a firsthand glimpse into the science and technology behind these essential vehicle components responsible for keepingvehiclesand millions of South Africans safe on our roads.

SRSA’s Factory Tour Programme enables schools from the Ladysmith and surrounding areas to explore the tyre plant, which opened in 1973. It boasts over 1200 employees who work to produce more than 2.2 million tyre units a year.

So far, more than 350 Grade 9 and 10 learners have visited this year from schools including Ingula High School, Embizeni High School and Colenzo High School. Another 430+ learners from Kwaphayikeni High School, eZakeheni High Schooland Kwaphayikeni High School will tour the plant in the second half of the year.

"Exposing young minds to the inner workings of a complex industry like ours is a privilege," said Yojiro Miki, Acting Director: Production at SRSA. "Our factory isone of the largest employers in the Ladysmith community and plays a vital role in the Ladysmith economy. Approximately 87% of our Ladysmith plant employees are from the Alfred Duma Local Municipality and 90% within uThukela District Municipality, so we know that a number of these young people could potentially end upemployed within this exciting environment.”

Throughout the interactive tour, learnerswitness the tyre manufacturing process, from raw materials to finished product. They learn about the intricate steps involved in rubber mixing, tread design, curing, and quality control, and gain an understanding of how homegrown, locally manufactured tyres support a thriving economy.

As part of its Youth Month programme, SRSA also participated in an UThukela District Grade 9 Career Expo Programme at Ladysmith Indoor Sports Centre on 13 Juneaimed at empowering learners with valuable insights into various career paths. The event was coordinated by KwaNtuthuko Trading Enterprise, a 100% black female owned and managed company founded by Hlengiwe Hlophe, a social activist with a passion for education.The company found that many learners lacked exposure to the growing range of career options, including Data Analysis and Information Technology.

“Grade 9 is a crucial stage for learners to decide on their careers.We wanted them to have a chance to speak with someone whose career choice interests them to exploreareas they may not have considered before,” said Hlophe.

SRSA showcased some of theexciting career opportunities it offers, includingTechnical and Engineering, Production, Procurement and Logistics, Human Resources, and Finance, alongside graduateand in-service trainee programmes, apprenticeships, and learnerships.

SRSA’s Youth Empowerment programmes aim to bridge the gap between education and industry, paving the way for a skilled and future-focused workforce. The company is a division of Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd (SRI), one of the leading premium manufacturers of automotive tyres and industrial rubber products in the world, headquartered in Japan and employing 40,000+ worldwide with 12 factories globally. It is also a member of the South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC), an industry body representing the four multinational tyre manufacturers with plants and operations in South Africa around issues including trade, economic and environmental policies, tyre sector regulations,and local manufacturing.

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