Training is naturally an imperative for every business, at every level, throughout its lifespan. But possibly the best opportunity for heightened focus on a training programme is during an economic slowdown, says Michael Gristwood, Executive Director of SAAFFI (SA Association of the Flavour and Fragrance Industry). ‘It’s during a quiet financial period that businesses are most likely to be in a position to make the time available for training and upskilling their staff to develop the expertise and capacity that will ensure success when the economic turnaround comes – which it always does,’ he adds.
SAAFFI has a vibrant and industry-responsive training programme that can only be improved with a greater level of input from companies within the industry, and the industries it serves, on what they need to stay ahead of their game.
SAAFFI training is two-tiered. The first is the annual one-day seminar and workshop, which takes place in March each year, is a broad exposure on a particular aspect of the business – aimed at reaching both the industry and its customers.
The second tier consists of the Precise Short Training Courses (PSTCs), which are basically two-hour sessions, for an average-sized group of 25 people to expose them to a specific subject. ‘The nature of these short courses means that they are not designed to produce experts on the subject, but to ensure that delegates are given a sound insight into the subject – and are then in a position to research it further if necessary,’ explains Gristwood.
Course presenters are sourced from companies within the industry, or from suppliers to industry, to ensure that costs are kept to an absolute minimum and thus enable anyone in industry to attend. For instance, course fees this year will run at about R275 for SAAFFI members and R310 for non-members. SAAFFI is also putting plans in place to allow members to send a number of staff free of charge on any of the PSTCs.
Course topics presented last year included Principles of basic quality control & traceability, and Product safety & security (both presented by Fazila Mahomed of IFF); Flavour & fragrance regulatory matters & definitions, and Flavourings & the new labelling regulations (Michael Gristwood); Colour technology (Lonsdale O’Donovan of Quantum); Basics of beverage emulsions (Wayne van Nieuwenhuizen of Sweet Flavour Creations); Overview of HACCP for management, marketing, sales, procurement and admin staff (Linda Jackson of Linda Jackson & Associates); and Overview of the ins and outs of sweeteners (Anneke Blaauw of Tate & Lyle).
This year’s PSTC programme, which will launch towards the end of June, will include courses on Acids; Preservatives for food & drinks; Preservatives for cosmetics; Stabilizers; Gums & starches; and Natural colours, among others.
The PSTC concept has been extended to include a series of Numeracy in the Workplace courses. ‘These were devised by maths teacher and experienced facilitator Shirley Shochot to help the industry deal with a basic skill that is crucial in the workplace, but tends to be forgotten. We are following three levels in these courses – basic, intermediary and advanced – with the aim of enabling the delegates to reach the stage where they can handle day-to-day tasks with ease.’ The Numeracy courses are four-hour sessions and cost twice the amount of the standard PSTCs.
Gristwood invites anyone within industry to contact him with: