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Sumitomo Rubber Factory Tour Program Accelerates for Youth Month

In honor of Youth Month, 60 Grade 9 students from Colenso Combined School experienced an educational tour at Sumitomo Rubber South Africa’s (SRSA) Dunlop Tyres plant in Ladysmith. This initiative, part of SRSA’s Factory Tour Programme for local schools, offered students a unique opportunity to learn about the science and technology behind tyre manufacturing, emphasizing the critical role tyres play in vehicle safety for millions of South Africans.

SRSA’s Factory Tour Programme invites schools from Ladysmith and neighboring areas to explore the tyre plant, operational since 1973. The facility employs over 1,200 workers and produces more than 2.2 million tyre units annually. This year, over 350 Grade 9 and 10 students from schools like Ingula High School, Embizeni High School, and Colenzo High School have participated. An additional 430+ students from Kwaphayikeni High School, eZakeheni High School, and others are scheduled to visit in the latter half of the year.

“Introducing young minds to our complex industry is a privilege,” said Yojiro Miki, Acting Director of Production at SRSA. “Our factory is a significant employer in the Ladysmith area, contributing to the local economy. With 87% of our employees hailing from the Alfred Duma Local Municipality and 90% from the uThukela District Municipality, many of these young people may find future employment within our dynamic environment.”

During the interactive tour, students observed the entire tyre manufacturing process, from raw materials to finished products. They gained insights into rubber mixing, tread design, curing, and quality control, understanding how locally manufactured tyres bolster the economy.

As part of the Youth Month celebrations, SRSA also participated in the UThukela District Grade 9 Career Expo on 13 June at the Ladysmith Indoor Sports Centre. This event, organized by KwaNtuthuko Trading Enterprise, a black female-owned and managed company founded by social activist Hlengiwe Hlophe, aimed to provide students with valuable career insights. The expo addressed the need for students to explore diverse career options, including data analysis and information technology.

“Grade 9 is a pivotal time for students to choose their career paths. We wanted them to explore various fields by interacting with professionals,” said Hlophe.

At the expo, SRSA highlighted various career opportunities within the company, such as technical and engineering roles, production, procurement and logistics, human resources, and finance. They also presented information on graduate and in-service trainee programs, apprenticeships, and learnerships.

SRSA’s Youth Empowerment initiatives aim to bridge the gap between education and industry, fostering a skilled and future-oriented workforce. SRSA is a division of Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd (SRI), a leading global manufacturer of automotive tyres and industrial rubber products headquartered in Japan, employing over 40,000 people worldwide across 12 factories. SRSA is also a member of the South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC), which addresses trade, economic, and environmental policies, tyre sector regulations, and local manufacturing in South Africa.

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