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Tri-Star’s commitment to enhancing the quality of life in the communities we serve is unwavering. We prioritize understanding the unique needs of underserved communities from the outset of every project. One of our core initiatives involves creating employment opportunities, especially for young individuals. Through the Tri-Star Training Academy, we offer diverse learning paths, including apprenticeships in the field of construction, equipping participants with the essential skills and knowledge required for success in the construction industry, where we are a valued partner.
In September 2020, our Training Academy welcomed its inaugural class of 21 eager learners, and we’re proud to mention that this program, lasting three years, receives generous funding from the Construction Education and Training Authority (CETA). Among our learners, five have already distinguished themselves, preparing to take their trade tests after successfully passing their N2 Modules.
We take great pride in sourcing and recruiting learners from previously disadvantaged communities such as Diepsloot, Clayville, Ivory Park, Soweto, Roodepoort, and Fleurhof, where Tri-Star Construction actively carries out its projects.
Now, let’s hear directly from some of the remarkable individuals whose lives have been transformed by their experiences at the Tri-Star Training Academy:
King Letsosa, 29
“In 2020, I initially worked as a scaffolding erector at Tri-Star Construction through a subcontractor. Due to the pandemic, I faced a three-month employment gap. When Tri-Star resumed operations, I returned as a screen processor.
In September 2020, I was fortunate to be part of the first intake of Tri-Star’s Bricklaying apprenticeship despite having no prior bricklaying knowledge. The program has two phases: 18 months of on-site training and 18 months in the classroom. Throughout, I’ve learned various construction aspects, including report analysis, cost estimation, precise bricklaying, operations, surveying, mortar mixing, plumbing, and carpentry.
Even though I already have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a National Certificate Level 2 in Civil Engineering, I’m eager to further my education in construction engineering, construction management, and project management to improve my skills.
My future vision is to become a subcontractor in bricklaying or plastering, establishing my own business that empowers and employs youth. This journey has transformed me, and I’m excited to keep building structures and opportunities for the next generation.”
Inam Jakuja, 23
“During training, there were a lot of good times, but it wasn’t easy. Being a young female in construction presented many challenges including being seen as incapable. I had to constantly prove my capabilities. Often, I felt underestimated and disrespected. Despite the treatment I received, I had to remain respectful, especially towards the elder people in the industry.
The experience was hectic but entirely worth it. It made me stronger and gave me a different perspective on many things. It proved how capable I am.
We were fortunate to have oversight that assisted us when we would raise a complaint. They were helpful in resolving any issues we had.
During my time here at the academy, the most important thing I learned was respect. There were times when I wouldn’t perform my work properly, made mistakes, and sometimes lost my cool. However, respect was always a serious matter. It’s crucial to respect the people you work with, including those who work under you. In construction, you need to be strong and not have a faint heart. Days are not always the same, and they are not easy, but when we respect each other, it makes the days better.
I remember when I joining the program that it was all about money, at first. That quickly changed because I realised that it shouldn’t always be about money. Qualification is essential, especially in construction because it will always be there. Being a female can be an advantage in construction as long as you have the right attitude. Challenges also appeal to me because they build strength. Proving yourself around men and doing well in a male-dominated environment is a source of pride for me. I have developed passion and knowledge, and I would like to grow in this industry even though I never thought I would like it. However, the more time I spent doing different things in this field, the more interesting it became. I would like to embrace the opportunity to grow in construction, and I appreciate that there are no limits in this industry.
With that being said, I would like to encourage any young girl thinking about a career in construction – You need to be strong, consistent, and always ready to prove yourself for the right reasons. There will be challenging days. I’ve had many days when I would cry, but I always found a way to motivate myself and remind myself of why I was doing what I was doing. Just be strong and believe in yourself. Maintain a positive mindset because your mindset is everything. If you can envision it in your mind as possible, then it is definitely possible.”
Thabo Dube, 34
“My Training Academy experience was both enjoyable and challenging. On the fun side, we connected with fellow students and had a great time. However, the real challenges awaited us on the construction site, where we encountered various difficulties. Being students led some to underestimate us, and many lacked faith in our productivity. Despite these challenges, I’m determined to pursue a career in construction engineering, whether it’s civil, electrical, or construction itself.
Tri-Star provided exposure to various trades, even though we specialized in brickwork. This hands-on experience improved my skills and taught me to handle people with diverse behaviours. I also learned to manage my emotions, recalling Uncle Rob’s advice on the first day, emphasizing that construction isn’t for the faint-hearted.
Our education extended beyond becoming employees; we delved into the business and commercial aspects of construction. We interacted with subcontractors, CEOs, supervisors, and site agents, gaining insights into the broader business context of construction.
I had the privilege of learning from mentors like Mr. Maponya, Pilato, and Emmanuel, who made me feel a sense of belonging and encouraged learning without belittling. This has inspired me to aspire to open my own company and maintain a continuous learning mindset.
Looking back on how the Training Academy improved my life, I am truly grateful. The program empowered me with valuable experience and leadership skills. I learned to manage teams, handle diverse personalities, and embrace the importance of teamwork. I learned that there’s no need to point fingers at one another when mistakes happen; but that we find solutions together. This experience has been a rich source of personal and professional growth.”
When we asked Thabo how he experience the culture at Tri-Star, he had this to say;
“I can say that it is very different compared to other companies. It’s unique, modern, and effective. At Tri-Star, we deal with different subcontractors, and we specialize.”
Phemelo Ramagaga, 22
“When I started the training academy, I had just finished my matric in 2019. The program began in September 2020. The journey has been both interesting and challenging. I had just finished school, had no work experience, and knew very little about construction. At first, it was all about the money, if I’m honest, but I found myself eager to learn about construction. As you know, it is a male-dominated industry, so it wasn’t easy for a female like me. But all the challenges I’ve faced have made me grow and learn a lot. I’ve learned to work with various people. It has been challenging because it’s not something I envisioned doing. One of the challenges I’ve faced is getting people to listen to me as a female.
I believe that for people to listen to you, you have to communicate with them in a certain way. However, some people refuse to listen simply because you are a woman. I think you should have a good reputation that will make people listen to you, but it is very hard when you are new to the industry to gain respect from men. The way I dealt with it was by getting to know the people I work with better, so they could also get to know me. When we work together, they understand what kind of person I am, and when I ask them to do something, they know I’m not trying to take control; it’s just part of the work.
Although bricklaying is hard work, I enjoy it the most. The reason being that many people believe that a woman cannot be a bricklayer, so I see it as an achievement, something I can own that many women cannot. Many people also think that bricklaying is a dirty job, but it’s not.
Tri-Star has a female subcontractor who specialises in brickwork. When we were doing practical’s, she was there, and she told us that when she started, it was very challenging for her as well. However, Tri-Star never gave up on her, and on the next project, they included her, and she improved significantly. I could see it as well, and I believe she is doing well right now.
There is another lady that I look up to, Bontso. She is a kind woman She knows her way around the industry. Bontso can get people to listen to her because she knows the people she’s working with, and they also know her. There is a mutual respect.
I am willing to take up any opportunity that comes my way in construction, and I am willing to grow step by step. Right now, if I could go to school and study construction management, I would love that. It wasn’t my plan to work in construction, but I believe I am here for a reason.”
Makhotso Letsosa, 24
” Before receiving my N2 in Civil Engineering, I studied fashion. Due to Covid, my parents could no longer fund my studies, and I ended up dropping out. I then heard about the apprenticeship at Tri-Star and enrolled into the Training academy.
Initially, when I joined, it was a bit difficult because it was very different from what I had pictured myself doing. However, during the simulation in class, I started to enjoy it. From there, we went to the site. There were a few challenges, with the first being the pace at which the site operates. The second challenge was the multitude of different languages. But I had to push myself and learn everything I could about construction, with effective communication being especially important.
I encountered many difficulties in communicating with other people to get something or to get somewhere, or giving out instructions that I received from my supervisor. When I relayed these instructions to someone else, I would get responses like, “I won’t be told what to do by a woman.” However, after some time, I improved the way I addressed people and came up with a strategy to make communication easier.
I remember a conversation I had with Emma, one of the brick laying ladies on site. She said giving out instructions was difficult at first because she’s a woman, and there were people who tried to undermine her. But she told me she had to push herself to do better every day and set daily targets to reach. Seeing what she has achieved in life has inspired and motivated me to be better. I would like to see myself in her shoes one day. I am thankful her advice and guidance.
As time passed, I became more interest in construction. I would like to further my studies in engineering and, after a year or two, start my own sub-contracting company.”