Craftsman ‘irons’ that make the world’s wheels turn


He is an ambitious young craftsman and winner of the #JouYster scholarship loan. And thanks to this scholarship loan, Delarey van der Merwe (19) has just started his vocational training in fit-and-turn work on the Sol-Tech Farm.

Van der Merwe approaches this study with great enthusiasm and motivation; it is his goal to one day set up his own business. His first day on the Sol-Tech Farm was the beginning of his dream, says Van der Merwe. And it was really exciting. However, this was not his first introduction to the craft world.

Early in his matric year, Delarey got the opportunity to work at an engineering workshop at Brits. The owner of Hanzel, the engineering workshop, took Delarey under his wing and there his fondness for artisan work began.

“So many people made this study trip at Sol-Tech possible for me. All the people involved at Solidarity, as well as the uncle at the workshop who gave me a taste for the trade profession. Everyone helped me realize my dream,” says Delarey.

He admits that his studies would not have been possible without the Solidarity Trade Network and says he is grateful for the opportunity that put him on this path. He aspires to start his own business after completing his education. In this way, he also wants to create opportunities for others.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to develop my craftsmanship. I will take full advantage of this chance at Sol-Tech and hope to one day help others as I have been helped,” he says.

According to Dirk Smit, network organizer of the Ambagnetwerk, Delarey is the ideal candidate for the scholarship loan because he has proven his penchant for fit-and-turn work and is willing to work hard and learn.

“The members of the Ambagnetwerk also realize that young people need mentorships so that they can learn how things should happen in practice and understand them more easily,” he says.

Who is #YourIron?

The winner of the #JouYster competition is such a mentor for scholarship winners – and nominations for this year’s competition can still be made.

Technology is changing by leaps and bounds and Sol-Tech says the world needs skilled and knowledgeable tradespeople to keep the rapidly changing society going. These “irons” are the silent heroes in this process of progress and with the #JouYster competition, tribute is specifically paid to African artisans.

“We recognize the excellence and dedication of tradespeople by offering members of the public the opportunity to nominate their favorite tradesperson,” says Smit.

However, the purpose of the #JouYster competition is not only to recognize excellence in the world of the trades, but also to give back to the community by creating an opportunity for a needy prospective student to obtain a trades qualification through the grant of a scholarship loan.

“The #JouYster winner makes this possible by awarding a scholarship loan – with the help of Solidarity – to a student. This loan enables the recipient to study for the trade of his or her choice at Sol-Tech and to eventually acquire a red seal qualification in the trade world.”

Last year, Solidarity received a record number of more than 1,000 nominations and the organization says that the participation of members of the public contributes to the success of the competition. This also enables Solidarity to give recognition and support to the best artisans.

  • Click here to nominate a tradesman or woman who you think is an outlier in his or her trade and will also be a mentor to young people. The #JouYster nominations for 2024 are open until April 26.