The Gearhouse Kentse Mpahlwa Academy makes a meritorious contribution in its support of the Parkview Charity Christmas Market each year. Besides loaning equipment in the form of lighting, sound, audio-visual, rigging and the materials needed for the stage, Gearhouse students attending the Gearhouse Kentse Mpahlwa Academy Learnership Programme build the stage, set up the technical systems and operate all the equipment during the event at no charge.

Operating the technical equipment is part of the learners’ final practical assessment in order to qualify from the academy which offers a one-of-a-kind Event Technical Production Services training school in South Africa. Gearhouse runs an annual industry learnership course from training centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban for the Technical Production Services Industry. 

This is a free-of-charge, full-time, in-house training programme with theoretical and practical components in key technical services. The course aims to produce work-ready industry entrants with a strong foundation in the exacting safety standards and methodology required for Technical Production Services within the events industry.

The programme runs from February to the end of December each year and accepts up to 15 learners in each centre. Students complete the programme at their own pace within the year timeframe. Assessment is conducted throughout the year, culminating in a final exam at the end of November which the Parkview Charity Christmas Market event forms part of.

“Gearhouse has always offered experiential training on-site,” explains Gearhouse’s Marketing Manager Robyn D’Alessandro. “We got involved with the generation of standards for Technical Services Production for the National Qualifications Framework and that led to our writing the first course material that was accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority for our industry.” 

The Academy is a major undertaking for the company. Each year, around 200 applications are received at each of Gearhouse’s three branch offices. Around 30 Gearhouse Kentse Mpahlwa Academy graduates enter the industry each year. Entrants must have a Matric qualification with Maths and Science. Male and female alike and all races are welcome to apply.

Under Gearhouse’s tutorage, learners develop real-world knowledge of event production, with skills encompassing lighting, sound, AV, rigging, structures and power. On completion of their course they receive a nationally-recognised South African Qualifications Authority certificate.

“There are studio-type audio courses, recording and that kind of thing offered through South African tertiary institutions, and there are some theatre-based technical courses as well, but there’s not much out there that really lends itself to the live events and the conferencing market which is what our training academy focuses on,” says course facilitator, Josef van Schalkwyk.

As an employer Gearhouse offers a range of opportunities: the company has made a successful habit of forming small, dedicated, specialist off-shoots to meet specific needs within the event production business. Splitbeam is dedicated to theatre equipment rental; LEDVision provides LED screen rental; Gearhouse ICS (Information and Communication Solutions) offers a range of systems for presentation, communication, audience response, registration and more. Then there’s System Solutions, specialist provider of AV, LED and digital cinema solutions, among other things. There’s also INHOUSE VTM (Venue Technical Management) which currently looks after on-site technical requirements at around 20 venues across the country, Havaseat provides grandstand seating and so it goes across all 10 companies in the Group.

The team were in action at the Parkview Charity Christmas Market which took place at George Hay Park 28-30 November 2014, corner of Waterford Ave and Lurgan Rd, Parkview, Johannesburg. 

Story and Photo courtesy Parkview Charity Market

Feb 2, 2015

The Gearhouse Group of Companies